US-based Gambian imam disagrees with Baba Leigh on relief for sex workers


By Omar Bah

A United States-based Gambian imam and businessman, Omar Jaiteh, has expressed his disappointment over Imam Baba Leigh’s comments that commercial sex workers should not be deprived of any assistance on account of their profession.

Imam Leigh caused controversy when he suggested in a Standard exclusive that sex workers should be supported following wide spread condemnation of comments by the National Aids Secretariat suggesting that there will be a support for people living with HIV in The Gambia under the Covid- context. Although 11 percent of this population are sex workers, NAS said the support to these people, which is not new, does not specifically identify or target sex workers and that its comments were taken out of context by the media and some members of the population.


In his reaction contained in a write-up shared with The Standard, Imam Jaiteh said: “I was very shocked to read that Imam Baba Leigh out of all people is coming out in support of any move to promote and defend ‘prostitution’ in this Muslim nation.”

Imam Jaiteh said granting relief to sex workers has nothing to do with human rights nor has it anything to do with service to citizens, ‘but it is promotion of that brand’.

“Despite the fact that Imam Leigh is notably obsessed to be controversial mostly on the wrong side, this one is grossly abhorrent and morally reprehensible. While people are dying of hunger and malnutrition, women are dying in labor on almost daily basis, and youths are fleeing the country at all costs to be able to feed their families, Imam Leigh has nothing to say about all that but will come out to advocate for prostitution and destruction of humanity and decency,” he said.

“What a shame! But shame of all shames is to see this immoral campaign coming from someone regarded as a leader in Muslim community from a noble family that we came to know and respect. Imam Leigh, regardless of the depth of his knowledge of Islamic science, we believe that he’s well acquainted with knowledge of the Quranic verse that is unambiguous in dismissing  aid to sinful acts and transgressions,” he said.

He continued: “The Almighty Allah said in Suratul Ma~Ida: (..but help ye one another unto righteousness and pious duty. Help not one another unto sin and transgression, but keep your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is severe in punishment). Imam Leigh should fear Allah and be mindful of the inevitable day of reckoning.”

“No one here is saying wrongdoers should not be treated when fallen ill, but that treatment should not be attached to their wrong doing or attributed to their action, lest it becomes a promotion for their act. And for those of you out there, the government and its surrogates like Imam Leigh are intentionally confusing you with the notion of human rights, where is the relief for students? Elderly populations and front-line workers like nurses, police and firefighters?”

He said Imam Leigh should desist from misleading innocent Muslims who trust him to lead and guide them.