By Omar Bah
Former Interior minister and leader of the GMC party has challenged the government to allocate budgetary funding and all other opportunities to Arabic/Islamic schools.
“As a nation, we have been grossly unfair to half of our population who choose to attend Arabic/Islamic schools. The state must allocate resources to this sector as much as it does towards conventional education. They are citizens entitled to equitable treatment and are taxpayers too. They deserve to enjoy budgetary opportunities and all other advantages accorded to conventional educational institutions,” Mai Fatty told The Standard.
The former special adviser to President Barrow said the Gambia Government should subsidise these institutions.
“Further, employment opportunities should be available to Gambian graduates from Arab-speaking institutions in other fields, and not just to serve as imams and Islamic teachers. I am committed to ensuring that there is equity in this regard. We are one country, one people indivisible with one destiny. Let us value the age-old interfaith solidarity and cooperation as our inspiration to the world. We should eschew all tendencies that may divide us among religious, ethnic or gender variables. Let us pray for peace and unity,” he said.
Islam, Fatty added, establishes shared values that espouse the universality of humanity.
“Each of us, within the ummah has the singular responsibility to manifest those values especially in our interpersonal relationships. It is also opportunity to defend the truth and stand for principle in accordance with the teachings, practices and lifestyle of Prophet Muhammad (saw) and his sahaba,” he said.
He said Islam and its noble principles are under global threat, both from Takfiris who parade themselves as Muslims and wreak criminal acts in the name of Islam, and a global political and media system that portrays Islam persistently in a pejorative colours.
“We must stand up to them both and other evil influences and defend our faith. While defending our faith, we must avert our minds on the Decree of Allah in the Qur’an contained in Surah Al Kafirun establishing freedom of worship over a thousand years ago. In other parts of the Qur’an, Allah emphasises that there is no compulsion in religion and everyone has the right to choose a religion of your convictions,” he added.
Fatty said he is committed to ensuring freedom of worship in “this country, that the rights of religious minorities are respected and enforced by law, policy and practice. I call on all Gambians to maintain the homogeneity and tolerance we are known for”.
“Let us pray for stability and pray for free, fair and equitable elections this year,” he concluded.