27 C
City of Banjul
Thursday, February 25, 2021

Crisis rocks Kanifing East Layout mosque

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The residents accused Aja Maimuma Savage, the proprietor of Muhammad Yaradua Islamic School for English and Arabic of using the mosque grounds as a classroom for her students.   

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A community elder who spoke on condition of anonymity told The Standard: “The school belongs to Aja Maimuna Savage, but the construction of the school and the mosque was initiated by one Haruna Camara, a former in-law to Mrs Savage, who is now based in Saudi Arabia.

“Haruna obtained sponsorship from Saudi for the project and one of the conditions was to build a mosque within the school premises.”

Our source further disclosed that Haruna’s relationship with the family was severed and he withdrew all the instruments he installed in the mosque. 

Our source continued: “Months later, Mrs Savage approached the community of Kanifing East Layout to join hands with her for the formal opening of the mosque. She told the community that since she was not a resident of the area, the mosque belongs to them. 

“This motivated everyone in the community to fully participate in the organisation of its opening and even went further to buy instruments for the mosque, such as loudspeaker, amplifier, ceiling fans and executive chair for the imam as well as the renovation of broken glass on windows and doors.

“Imams were selected and a mosque committee was established and normal daily prayers began in the mosque. The committee recommended that the activities of the mosque be separate from the school and acquired separate cash power meter and a bank account. 

“Mrs Savage rejected all these recommendations on no grounds. She decided to partition the mosque for use as school classroom. Earlier, she dissolved the mosque committee. This did not go down well with the community and elders started withdrawing from the mosque. 

“About a year later, to the surprise of everyone, Mrs Savage decided to create more classrooms in the mosque, covering more than three-quarters of the area. The entire community protested and gave her an ultimatum either to use the space as a mosque or school classroom but she opted to use the space as a classroom. The community then withdrew all the mosque equipment. On Tuesday October 28, the community declared the mosque closed, after a meeting with Alhaji Ousman Jah, who represented Aja Maimuna Savage at the meeting.”

However, Alhaji Ousman Jah, who’s also the board chairman of Islamic Centre for Women and Children denied that the mosque was closed. He told The Standard: “The mosque is yet to be closed and can still be used by the community. The only development that happened in the mosque was that the proprietor of the school happened to find herself in a dilemma. 

“She found that the number of her new intakes cannot be accommodated in the existing classrooms. In order to solve that problem, she decided to use part of the mosque as classrooms which the community sees as improper. The proprietor suggested removing the detachable partition every Friday and returning it back immediately after the Friday prayers. We won’t declare and we will never declare the mosque closed. It is left to the discretion of the community to decide whether to continue performing their daily prayers or not. I see this as a misunderstanding.” 

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