It is becoming too common to hear or read that the police have invited citizen to answer some questions about an opinion they made. This is unacceptable in a vibrant democracy.
One of the most important pillars of a democracy is freedom of speech; and that of the press. The citizens must have the right to express opinions without fear of repercussions. Every human being is entitled to an opinion and can express it anywhere.
The only limitation on freedom of speech is when it is – or can be – deemed to incite violence or a disturbance of the peace. Barring that, no one should be censored for expressing an opinion. That is just not acceptable in a democracy.
Recently though, the Gambia is becoming more and more intolerant of the opinion of citizens. This can be seen from the fact that every now and then a citizen is invited by the police.
Sometime ago Dr Ismaila Ceesay was invited to shed light on his comments about the President and the Gambia Armed Forces. Then Mamma Kandeh was invited again based on an opinion he proffered. Fabakary Tobong Jatta was also invited about statements he made.
The latest one is that of Mr Madi Jobateh for proffering an opinion on the murders of Haruna Jatta, Kebba Secka and Ousman Darboe. This was why he was also invited by the police and told to write a statement.
One thing is important. Folks should try to distinguish between facts and opinions. Everyone has a right to an opinion and no one should be harassed for an opinion. If someone proffers an opinion and one is not in agreement, use the same platform to refute it.
It does not augur well for a country claiming to be a democracy to keep harassing citizens for opinions they hold. If you take away freedom of expression; or of the media, you kill democracy.
Let us protect the democracy we fought for.