Mr Ousainou Darboe’s reaction came hot on the heels of the council’s Friday declaration that the Ahmadiyaa sect is outside the pale of Islam and urged Muslims not to associate with its members.
“I would have thought that the Supreme Islamic Council would have embarked on a crusade to unify Gambians rather than do something that will cause polarisation among Gambians,” the lawyer-cum-politician told The Standard.
He added: “I think the president should act firmly to ensure that nothing is done in this country by any group of individuals, whether religious or otherwise, that will affect the stability of this country. If this has a political backing, that will be disastrous. In fact, on Koriteh days, when Muslim elders go to meet the president, the Ahmadis are always present and they are recognised by the government of The Gambia as Muslims. It is because of that reason that they attend the ceremonies and they make valid contributions as to what should be happening in the society. I think the Supreme Islamic Council is really going overboard and that statement is not good for unity in this country.”
“One must wonder which institution has the constitutional right to say that the Ahmadis should not bury their corpse in our graves and we must not consider them as Muslims or have anything to do with them. This is breeding discontent against Ahmadis in the country and also a recipe for disorder. The Supreme Islamic Council is not the institution that oversees where A or B is buried. So it is not their business to say where someone should be buried.
“If an Ahmadi dies in Brikama and the people there say the person is not going to be buried in their grave, do they leave the person to rot? This is one of the most ill-considered statements! And I want to appeal to the president to make sure that these sorts of things are stamped out of our society. We already have too many problems in our hands and we don’t want to create instability in our country.”
The latest episode is the third in as many months the Ahmadiyaa sect has come under scathing attack. It followed that of renowned India-born televangelist, Dr Zakr Naik, who was in the country on Jammeh’s invitation and that of the Imam of State House, Abdoulie Fatty. The latter was dismissed shortly after he called for the Ahmadiyaa sect to be banned.
For Darboe, who is also one of the most senior lawyers in the country, the right to freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Gambian constitution and the SIC has no powers to decide otherwise.
“In the first place, the practice of religion is a constitutional guarantee. This means that everyone has a right to belong to any religious sect and practice as your sect believes. After all, if I choose to be an Ahmadi, that is between me and my god! If I am a true Muslim or not, it is my God that truly knows that. A true Muslim should not engage in an enterprise that causes disunity. Prophet Muhammed has always preached peace and he did it in both words and conduct and in the process of doing so, he had never made statements that will bring disunity in society. And the Quran is even very clear on the fact that there is no compulsion in religion. So why should Supreme Islamic Council be taking on Ahmadis in this sort of fashion? The social services that the Ahmadis are offering in this country are contributing to our socio-economic development and why should Islamic Council be on their neck? There is no moral or legal justification to the statement they made against Ahmadis. It is unconstitutional and even derogatory.”
He warned: “Fundamentalism is something that must be nipped it in the bud here and what will happen is that it will germinate here if we allow it. At some point, it will be uncontrollable. And as a Muslim, I am thoroughly ashamed that we are engaged in a sort of bickering that does not exist in the Christian community.”]]>