‘Islamic Council orchestrated Caliph Hydara’s arrest’

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By Mafugi Ceesay

Abass Hydara, the eldest son of the late sheriff caliph, Muhideen Hydara, yesterday told the TRRC that his father’s arrest his subsequent prosecution were orchestrated by the leadership of the Supreme Islamic Council.
The late Muhideen was the spiritual head of the sharifiya caliphate in Darsilami Sagnajor, in Foni.

Abbas Hydara recalled that on 28thJuly, 2014 the council under the leadership of Momodou Lamin Touray decreed that Muslims observe the end of Ramadan feast which position was sanctioned by then president Yahya Jammeh.
He said the council availed on Jammeh not to allow the eid-ul-fitr prayers to be observed in the country on the following day.

“Acting on this advice, Yahya Jammeh said he was the owner of the country and no one would be allowed to pray the following day. He threatened anyone who observed the prayer the following day would be arrested. My father said the prophet stated that people should pray only if they see the moon.We prayed on the day prohibited by Yahya Jammeh and the Islamic Council. Consequently, our alkalo and my father were arrested by the police,” Abbas Hydara testified.

He said his father’s plan to go on the hajj a few months later to be aborted.
“My father had a large following and his arrest affected many people. We were all let down because the Islamic Council instigated his arrest,” he said.

Detention of father He said his father spent a day at Sibanor Police Station and two days at Yundum Police Station and was moved to the Police Headquarters in Banjul.
He said his father was taken to a meeting at the council’s head office in Kanifing where Imam Abdoulie Fatty allegedly told his late father that he was behind his arrest and not President Jammeh.

“Imam Abdoulie Fatty is a bad person and a hypocrite. They asked my father to accept that he did wrong and he should confess his mistake but he refused to accept any wrongdoing. There was quarrelling because we knew we did nothing wrong,” Abbas Hydara narrated.
He said the council members told them they would be returned to the Yundum Police Station.

“They told us we were going to be released, but we spent the night at the police station. What the Supreme Islamic Council told us did not happen. When the then IGP Yankuba Sonko came to the police station, my father was released on bail the following day with a bond of D100,000,” he said.

He said the trial started on August 12th at the Brikama Magistrates Court and on the first day, his father’s request to sit while taking his plea was refused despite his advanced age.
He said his father was jointly charged with Wuyeh Touray for disobeying the lawful orders of the president by going against the prayer day announced on the national radio. He said the case was handled by three magistrates and it was transferred to the Brikama High Court. The trial ended in May 2015.

“My father was not a criminal. He was arrested and prosecuted for what he believed in as a Muslim. He suffered in the hands of the regime for crimes he never committed,” he said.