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Monday, March 8, 2021

Pastor challenges CRC to include secularism in draft

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By Omar Bah

The controversy surrounding the absence of secularism in the draft constitution continues to confront the CRC with pastors now joining the discussions.

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Pastor Seal Jammeh of Light and Sait Crystal Chapter, who is the first Pastor to comment on the issue, said the Christian Council clearly stated in their position paper that “secular” should be inserted in the draft constitution.

“The Christian Council’s position clearly states that the secularism of The Gambia and the right to freedom should reflect and that the wordings of the 1997 Constitution which states that Gambia is a sovereign secular state should be maintained in the New Constitution.
“This provision will ensure there will be no discrimination of faiths and interest groups.
“If the CRC has not seen the position paper from the Christian Council, they should go back and check it or ask the Council to give it to them,” he urged.

Pastor Seal Jammeh said when the National Assembly was outlining the CRC’s mandate, they clearly spelled out that they must not discriminate between religious and interest groups.

“We are equal in this country; so we believe the government should not use tax payers’ money to build mosques. The Christian Council has built lot of schools and hospitals in this country and personally, I am paying school fees for lot of students, majority of who are Muslims,” he stressed.

He said the absence of secular in the draft constitution has reignited the fear that engulfed Christians when Jammeh declared the country an Islamic Republic.
He said the Christian Council is preparing another position paper to re-advise the CRC to include secular in the draft.

“Yes, the secular has reflected, but the Christian community is not happy with the way it has reflected in the draft constitution. We believe by refusing to include secular, the CRC has cut the roots out of the tree,” he added.

The CRC chairperson, Cherno Sulayman Jallow said the Commission had selected a committee of educated personalities to look into the controversy surrounding secularism but they couldn’t agree on its definition.

“Some of them believe if a country is a secular state, it means the government should not have anything to do with religion, while others believe secular means a country that doesn’t believe in religion,” he added.

He said what makes a constitution secular is what is written in it and not necessarily the word secular.

He revealed that only two people wrote about the section but none of them instructed the commission to insert the word in the Constitution.

Justice Jallow added that eight other institutions, including the Christian Council have written to the Commission about the same section but only three institutions recommended for them to insert the word.

“I want to call on those who want secular to be included in the draft to write to the CRC. I also want to call on the Muslims to understand that the worries expressed by the Christians are genuine because someone has once declared the country an Islamic Republic,” he added.

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