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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Letters to the Editor

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Why is the media completely silent on the closure of Observer?

Dear editor,

Why is the media not saying or enlightening the public on the Daily Observer’s closure? Do the media have a union? Is Observer not a member of the union? Are the rules and regulations of the union flouted by Observer?
How many Gambians and foreigners working at the Observer Company lingering on for months without earning salaries for survival? Are you not saddened? Did you speak or are you going to speak on behalf of the workers? What is the position of the government on this issue? Why not government takes over Observer Company? Are you aware that government is losing lot of finances on taxation? Ironically with operation of Observer it will have financial impact on the production and sales of other newspapers.

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The daily productions and sales will drastically reduce; the sales production and earning capacity will drop to an unprecedented level. Is this why the media is silent? But promote imaginatively any good intention hopes to get done.

Newspapers are not a necessity to life; it’s an idea functioning in a society whilst government is necessity to life. Suffice it to say that news is anything we learn today. What we did not know yesterday and anything that makes people talk. Are we saying Gambian news is dichotomous in character? Speak out loudly to the authorities for Observer Company to come back so that your Gambians and foreign workers to earn their decent living with families. The Gambia Revenue Authority has the mandate to close all businesses that default in payment without favoritism. The Revenue authority is brain child that earns the government a lot of money. It is regarded as the central nerve system of government finances.
However there should be a mutual understanding between the Revenue Authority and Observer Company for the re-settlement of debts.


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Koli Mbake

Barriers on a person’s disability likely to cause vexation

Dear editor,

Sheikh Tijan Bah 58, a practicing Muslim, he was excited to attend the Hajj next year after learning about the initiatives taken by the Saudi government to make the it accessible to Persons with Disabilities.
These arrangements include allocating special blocks for tawaf establishments and domestic pilgrim companies to serve the disabled. The Saudi government has also decided to allocate special restrooms and signs to guide the disabled to the special utilities.

However, Sheikh Tijan’s excitement would not last long because to perform Hajj from the Gambia “persons whose legs are amputated, who are crippled, handicapped, lunatic or otherwise physically / mentally incapacitated and those afflicted with polio, tuberculosis, congestive cardiac and respiratory ailment, acute coronary insufficiency, coronary thrombosis, mental disorder, infectious leprosy, AIDS or any other communicable disease / disability may not allow to travel to perform the Hajj”.
These guidelines are grossly violating the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, which seeks to promote equality and non–discrimination for Gambia’s disabled community. In addition, it is extremely offensive to refer to a Person with Disability as ‘crippled’ or ‘lunatic’. Incidentally, other Muslim countries allow Persons with Disabilities to attend and perform the Hajj.

Sheikh Tijan was shocked and saddened on reading these guidelines. “Since childhood it’s my dream to kiss the Kaaba and to feel its natural energy that empower so many. I hope one day I will able to do so without these policy barriers as a Muslim with disability, with dignity and equality.”
Sheikh is not the first disabled Gambian who has struggled to practice his faith. There has been at least half a dozen reported cases on mosques denying entry to wheelchair users recently.

Holy places do not judge whether a person is criminal or innocent, an infidel or loyal, a fraudster or a nation builder. It is sad to see such barriers being built only on the basis of a person’s disability – which is outside their control. Especially in a country like Gambia where Islamic faith is based on tolerance without discrimination of any person.

Religion for many is the only hope. More so for Persons with Disabilities and their families who feel they are equals at least in front of faith. “I remember the role faith played in my mother’s life. When I was a child, doctors had written me off, schools weren’t ready to accept me and many in my own family felt I didn’t deserve a normal life. It was from her visits to Tivaouane and Media Bai Niasse that my mother drew the strength to give me a normal life”, Sheikh opined.

I remember a quote from the blockbuster movie Shawshank Redemption where Andy Dufresne (Tony Robbins) tells Ellis Redding (Morgan Freeman) “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies”. I do ‘hope’ policy makers take remedial actions to ensure the doors of faith do not close for Gambia’s disabled.

Alagie Yorro Jallow
New York City

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