Let me first state as matter of record that I am a supporter of the United Democratic Party since 1997. Whenever I am in The Gambia at election time, I have always voted for the UDP. I support the UDP because I believe it is a party established on noble principles and that its leaders are principled persons.
I believe if you remove the principle of being principled from the UDP, then there is no UDP.
Therefore, I was greatly taken aback when I read on the front page of The Standard on Friday morning in big bold headlines UDP DISTANCES ITSELF FROM SABALLY’S COMMENTS, APOLOGISES TO CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY. The Standard reported that the disclaimer was written by Tombong Saidy “on behalf of the National Executive Committee, secretary general and the entire membership of the UDP” and that he tendered his sincere apologies for any offences caused to the Christian community by this matter.
I am telling Tombong Saidy that he was not speaking for me.
In the first instance what did Mr Sabally say that warranted and apology? We all know that Momodou Sabally is always vocal and candid in his opinions and that no one is going to suppress him.
When the newspaper contacted him, this is what he said in reaction: “What I mentioned is my opinion that the girls using veils should be allowed to use their veils in the schools, and my argument is from the democratic constitutional rights perspective that every Gambian should be free to exercise his or her religion and to manifest their religion as they see fit without mistreating the laws of the land.”
What is wrong in this?
First, he made it clear he was speaking his personal opinion. And to me what he is saying is true, is common sense and has the full backing of the constitutional law? So why the harsh rebuke from Tombong Saidy and the UDP? Has the UDP thrown Momodou Sabally under the bus because they do not want to lose some Christian votes? That is political expediency. That is lacking in principles. That is not the UDP I support. I am terribly disappointed with Tombong Saidy and his statement and whoever authorised him to write it and release it.
I am loyal supporter of the United Democratic Party but I strongly disagree with the UDP’s so-called press statement distancing itself from the truth spoken by Mr Momodou Sabally, our campaign manager.
I will not be surprised to hear that religious affairs minister Abba Sanyang influenced the Christians to castigate Sabally just to score political advantage. UDP should trust in God and defend the truth. Why would the UDP distance itself from the truth?
Religious communities must not allow themselves to be used by desperate politicians who will utilise any single opportunity for their political ends.
Momodou Sabally should know that we are in political season and he should desist from doing anything or saying anything that will jeorpadise his party’s chances. And besides, let us face the reality and respect each other. If a Muslim school ruled that they don’t want any student to wear a skirt or shorts and one of the students did it and he is warned or expelled from the school then whose fault would it be? The same thing applies to a Christian school. The Christian schools are saying they don’t want veils and long trousers in their school. Their rules should be respected. The aggrieved pupils or students should go to another school which allows those types of uniforms. When our holy prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) was approached by the non-believers to worship their gods, his response to them was, follow your deen and let me follow my deen. Let me ask you a question: will you allow a drunkard to sleep in the same bed with you or in your house when you don’t drink and forbid a bottle of wine to enter in your house?
Christian schools in United Kingdom allows girls to wear hijab. We should allow some kind of a compromise between Christian schools in The Gambia and the girls who wanted to wear hijab.
The same compromise should be made in Muslim schools to allow Christian kids to wear the cross if they wish to at any point. We should work towards seeing both faiths working together in regard to this matter.