The lion, king of the jungle, has many duties and responsibilities; but the primary duty is to protect its pride. Similarly, a president has many duties and responsibilities chief among which is to protect the citizens of his/her country from all threats, foreign and domestic.
It is the duty of the president to ensure equal rights and protection to all citizens regardless of their political, social, ethnic, or religious leanings. The president sees the country and not only sections of it. The president serves all people who call his country home, be they citizens by birth or naturalisation. The president belongs to all.
Perhaps saying that I’m disappointed in your government might be a little too strong a proposition; but certainly your government has fallen below my expectations of it. In the past few days there has been a lot of acrimonious discussion on social media on the issue of an Ahmadi Muslim being denied burial in a communal cemetery in Tallinding. The worse part of this problem is that it appears that the police were the cause. Had they done their job, according to the Laws of the Land, the standoff could have been nipped in the bud. The role of the police does not – should not – discriminate on religious lines. It was a simple matter of telling the people who were obstructing the burial that they had no right to prevent anyone from being buried in any communal cemetery.
Let’s say for argument sake that The Ahmadis are not Muslims; will that change the fact that we are human beings, or that we are citizens of this great country? No. It means zilch as far as our status as citizens, and being human beings is concerned. The way your government handled the crisis however leaves a lot to be desired. One would have expected that with a democratic government like yours, an attack on the fundamental rights of a minority group, which is in fact an attack on democracy, would have warranted a swift response from yourself. One would have expected you to address this issue. If not personally then through your formerly proactive minister of Interior, Mr Mai Ahmad Fatty. I say formerly because in the past he was swift to address security issues, but on this case he remains conveniently mute. Is this an example of selective justice? One wonders!
Mr President, there have been suggestions from some quarters that the Supreme Islamic Council should write to the government stating that they do not recognise the Ahmadis as Muslims. Ridiculous! The Supreme Islamic Council is a civil society organization with no power or mandate to decide who is a Muslim and who is not.
On the 18th of February, 1965, Ghulam Ahmad Badomali, the then Amir of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at was one of the Imams who led the Muslim prayers (Du’a) on behalf of the Muslim Ummah. Thus Ahmadis have been considered Muslims, and recognized as such in the Gambia for a long time.
I do not want to enter into the theological exegesis here but suffice it to say that the Founder of Islam Seyyidina Muhammad (countless blessings on him) has said that whoever says ‘Laa ilaaha illallahu Muhammadur Rasulullah’ is a Muslim. For us, this statement by the Acme of Creation is enough.
Ahmadis are law abiding citizens of this country. An enquiry from the police IGP will tell you that hardly do the police have any problems with Ahmadi Muslims. Further enquiry will reveal that this trait of being law abiding is witnessed all over the world. Ahmadis do not divorce themselves from the service to the nation. Be it in politics, social services or simply displaying love for this country.
Mr President, I do not need to say that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has contributed immensely to the advancement of education and health in the Gambia. Just enter into any office in this country and ask, without a shadow of a doubt, you will find someone who was schooled in one of our various schools. On health, I do not need to elaborate. Yet, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has also contributed to the development of Agriculture, the source of food, in this country.
Mr President, we are a community who does not depend on any government for our social and religious projects. We are a people who are willing to sacrifice our all for the service of God and nation.
Religious intolerance is a very dangerous phenomenon which should not be taken lightly. We have seen what it has done in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Mali, Egypt, the list goes on. Do you want Gambia to be part of that list?
I hope not!
Have a Good Day Mr President…
A Concerned Citizen