By Omar Bah
Presidential candidate Essa Faal has expressed disappointment over attacks on his faith.
Ever since he declared his political ambition, Mr Faal came under a barrage of attacks, with claims that he is a member of the Ahmadiyya Jama’at, a minority Muslim sect not very accommodated by most Gambian Muslims.
However, responding to his critics at a news conference yesterday organised to formally welcome independent candidate Kitabu Fatty to his campaign team, the former TRRC lead counsel said: “Nowadays they don’t have a response to the issues we raised but kept attacking me and my faith. They called me an Ahmadi.
“I would not ordinarily respond to this because this is profound and deep but let me tell you in this country, every individual has a right to believe in whatever religion under the law and that is what keeps us in peace and ensures that every individual gets what he or she wants but I am appalled and disappointed by the attacks on my faith. I am a Muslim, period. There are many branches of Islam but I don’t embrace any of them. I am simply a Muslim and not Mouride, Tij?niyya, Ahmadior any of these sects. What I believe in is to do my five daily prayers and observe the fundamental pillars of Islam. I have nothing against the Mouride as I have nothing against the Ahmadis. I am a peaceful and tolerant person and that is fundamental and absolutely necessary for this country and every other country in the world. Politics is a competition of ideas and not a dogged fight in the mud. But I forgive them because that is what Islam teaches me,” Faal said.
Mr Faal further claimed that the whole country has been sold to foreign investors, warning that if care is not taken, what happened in Zimbabwe could happen in The Gambia. “There is this portion of land in Gunjur where the Chinese business people mounted their flag on. Can you imagine the effrontery, audacity and disrespect to our sovereignty? But if our officials sold their souls to the Chinese, what can we do for the downtrodden people?” he asked.
“Just yesterday, we met a woman in Tanji who explained to us how they want to take away the little ‘farm’ she has been farming since she was 11-years-old going to primary school.
The whole country has been dug up and we don’t know what they are digging for. I bet they don’t even know what has been exported from here and that is why we are proposing an audit of the natural resources of this country to know under whose control they are and what kind of contractual arrangement to empower the country by keeping its resources to itself instead of mortgaging its future,” he said.
He continued: “The welfare of people in this country especially those at the lower level is completely neglected … social services to help our people are simply nonexistent. That is why I am running for president because we have to solve this problem.
“It is so bad that many young people will have to take the backway in search of greener pastures. This is why we are all angry and they tell us to suck it up but we said no and on December 4th, we are going to remove you from power because you are no good for our country. I am running for president because I hate injustice. I hate the fact that our limited resources are not put into issues of priority. I hate it that our sons and daughters would go to school and the teachers will not teach them with all that is relevant because they want to do extra classes in order to earn extra money,” he added.