By Mafugi Ceesay
The leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at has described the Supreme Islamic Council as a political group which his Jama’at cannot join.
Testifying at the TRRC yesterday about the persecution of the Jama’at under Yahya Jammeh’s regime, Amir Baba Trawally said: “We cannot be part of a political council that only came in to existence in 1992 while our Jama’at came into existence in 1961. We are not expected to beg to be part of the Council. We can only be a member if we are officially invited.”
Commenting on the widely held view that the Ahmadis were brought into the Gambia by first Gambian governor Sir Farimang Singhateh, the Amir said that was not the case as the Jama’at came in 1961.
According to Amir Trawally, his sect enjoyed a good stay under the government of the late Gambian leader Sir Dawda Jawara whom he described as a man of religious tolerance and a champion of human rights. He said Jawara even defended their rights in a 1971 Islamic conference that aimed to declare them non-Muslims.
Imam Fatty and the Jama’at
However according to Amir Trawally, the Ahmadis were not in confrontation with anyone until Imam Abdoulie Fatty, who was onetime State House Imam started campaigning against them as non-Muslims.
He said the former State House Imam first launched attack on Ahmadis in 1997 in his sermon held at the State House Mosque, calling the Ahmadis non-Muslims who should be taken to the McCarthy Square and be killed if they refuse to renounce their faith.
“On 23 June 1997, we sent a letter to the Office of President Yahya Jammeh complaining about the attack made by Imam Fatty on our sect but we were never replied by Jammeh.
However sometime later, we received a letter from the Interior Ministry saying the actions of Imam Fatty were personal and did not reflect the ideals of the government. Also our request to have an audience with Jammeh to relay our complaint to him about Imam Fatty was never granted. So we sent a delegation to meet with Imam Fatty at his compound to advise him to desist from such attack, however, our request was never honoured by Fatty. It was then that we met Momodou Bojang, about the attitude of the State House Imam,” the Amir told the TRRC.
He further alleged that the attacks from Imam Fatty caused the sect to lose its regular national TV and radio programmes and when they attempted to contact the private stations, they were told that they should go to the supreme Islamic council to fill a form.
Amir Trawally said one day, Imam Fatty attacked the Jamaat which was published in The Standard Newspaper and soon after, the Jama’at reacted to that attack in the media. He said Fatty was fired and since then, no new State House imam ever attacked the Jama’at.
The Amir also said the visit to the Gambia in 2014 by Zakir Naik reignited the attack on the Ahmadis in the Gambia.
“Naik even called on people not to take their children to our schools, and also convinced Jammeh to declare Gambia an Islamic State. Naik is an extremist. He himself has been declared a non-believer in many religious gatherings,” Trawally said.
Attacks on mosques
Amir Trawally further disclosed that they were stopped from contracting a mosque in Yerobawol by the then chief, while another was demolished in Macca-Masireh in Wuli under the orders of the Alkalo, who along with his people were convicted and ordered to pay a fine of D400 each and to rebuild the mosque.