Rawdatul Majaalis has taken issues with comments made at a recent meeting between President Barrow and Islamic scholars at State House.
In a statement released yesterday, the group said: “President Adama Barrow hosted last week at the State House a congregation of Imams for a Quranic recitation. The former president of the Supreme Islamic Council (SIC), Imam Momodou Lamin Touray, made a statement at the end of the ritual in which he vehemently condemned Musa Boto Saidy, although he did not mention him by name, for showing disrespect toward Muslim scholars of high standing in our society.
He however veered into a type of rhetoric that is reminiscent of the Yaya Jammeh autocratic system of governance, which had little regard for the rule of law. In his capacity as adviser to SIC, he opined to Adama Barrow that the Council should be authorized to investigate, reprimand and arrest any wayward individual whose comportment or utterances are likely to stir religious strife in the country.
Rawdat is squarely opposed to such an idea owing to the human rights violations innocent and defenceless Gambians had endured during Yahya Jammeh’s rule as revealed by scores of witnesses at the TRRC hearings. During the hearings, Gambians were stunned by harrowing accounts of atrocities meted out to presumed enemies of the Yahya regime including Imams and Muslim clerics at the instigation of senior members of SIC. For a former senior member of the Council, who was one of Yahya’s sycophants that fanned the flames of autocracy in matters of religion, to have the audacity to proffer statements that distastefully remind one of the horrors of Yahya’s regime, was a red flag for Rawdat, now that The Gambian people are reaping the fruits of their hard-earned human rights of freedom of speech, opinion, association, assembly, etc.
It is therefore incumbent on Rawdat to draw the attention of the Government and the Gambian people to anything that may undermine the basic tenets of the rule of law, which is the surest guarantor of peace and security in any civilized society.
After all, SIC is a mere non-governmental organization that conducts its activities in the sphere of religion, namely, Islam in The Gambia. Its role is therefore limited to working for the welfare of Muslims, promoting Islam through peaceful means and fostering the principles of peaceful coexistence and tolerance. It should therefore not to be seen to be championing autocratic proclivities and donning the mantle of a law enforcement agency. If this is allowed to happen, SIC would one day arrogate to itself the right to excommunicate individuals and organizations as it once threatened to do against the Ahmadiyya Movement in The Gambia and may do against any other religious institution that does not embrace SIC’s worldview in matters of religion. In fact, it used to instigate Yahya Jammeh to detain Imams and clerics.
In light of the foregoing, Majmouatou Rawdatul Majaalis solemnly calls on the Gambia Government to issue a statement distancing itself from Imam Momodou Lamin Touray’s unwelcome statement and kindly entreat him to withdraw it in the interest of democracy and the rule of law”.