Feasts and death threats

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It was an eventful holiday weekend.  

After thirty days of total abstinence during daylight hours, Muslims in The Gambia joined 1.8 billion brethren and sistren in about 232 countries and territories around the world in marking eid-ul-fitr or the festival of breaking fast.

This year’s feast is exceptional in that almost all Muslims in the country observed it on the same day without the normal rancour about whether the new moon has been sighted.

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During Ramadan, Muslims were fasting in the day, praying in the night and doing different kinds of sacrificial acts for the pleasure of Allah. They should continue doing the same, for according to the teachings of the Muslim prophet, the best of all acts of obedience are the ones followed up with their likes. Indeed, continuation of good deeds at all time is character of righteous people because acts of obedience do not have a specific time; rather, they are Allah’s unconditional right upon His servants as long as they are alive.

Though Ramadan is an opportunity for the faithful to race towards good deeds and direct their souls toward meritorious acts and keep it from vices; it is incumbent on Muslims to remain on the path of righteousness even after Ramadan.

‘Death threat’

Traditionally, as part of events marking eid-ul-fitr, members of the Supreme Islamic Council pay a courtesy call on the head of state at State House. It’s usually a jolly good celebratory affair but this time round, an uncharacteristically livid President Barrow promised a reset as he’s about to name a new cabinet. He also hit back at his critics accusing some of them of wanting to burn down the country, singling out Madi Jobarteh who he vowed to “handle”. 

Mr Jobarteh said the president’s remarks were bellicose and constitute a mortal threat, stating: “I hereby put all Gambians and relevant national and international bodies on notice. My life is currently in danger, threatened by the president of the Republic Adama Barrow. From today, the safety or destruction of my life is in the hands of the president. I consider the president’s remark as a death threat.”

The Gambia Press Union also thumbed down President Barrow’s added remark which insinuated that the media is contributing to the destabilisation of the country by giving platform to someone like Mr Jobarteh. It urged the president to uphold his responsibility to protect press freedom and freedom of expression as guaranteed by the laws of The Gambia.

Naturally, the relationship between the government and those that wish to hold it accountable is usually conflictual and often tense. Nonetheless, we urge all parties to be measured in their public statements and avoid bellicose rhetoric and making innuendoes that might aggravate the situation and lead to unintended consequences.

May Day

The festival of the end of Ramadan coincided with another festival, May Day or Worker’s Day which is observed in about eighty countries around the world on the first day of May every year. The purpose of the day is to commemorate the efforts and victories of the workers and the labour movements.

The day is set aside to revisit and acknowledge the historic struggles and the subsequent gains that have shaped the ideas of social justice and basic rights in workplaces across the world. In addition to remembering the past, efforts are also made to empower the workers of today with the required knowledge of their rights and responsibilities.

In a ten-page resolution, trade unions in The Gambia issued 23 recommendations urging government to among other things, set up an agricultural investment bank; restructuring of the social security and housing corporation; build industries to refine and add value to extractive resources; curtail the exploitation of landlords; increase salaries and pensions; and urge for the reintroduction of the expatriate quota board. These recommendations are aimed at improving the lot of workers who constitute by far the majority of our people. Therefore, the government should consider these recommendations with a view to implementing them.