I have been following the debate on homosexuality in your paper with keen interest. I have noticed how your newspaper always tries to set the agenda for public debate when it comes to such controversial and burning social issues like female circumcision/female genital mutilation, homosexuality and sor forth.
I rarely agree with President Yahya Jammeh but I concur with him when he said “there is no gay turkey or chicken, so why are we allowing fellow humans to be below the standard of animals?” I think the promotion of homosexuality is a total madness. It sounds like a crude statement but what Jammeh said is actually the simplest way to express the truth. Politicians in some countries have caved in to the powerful gay lobbying groups in US and Europe but the protest against the spread of gay fever in Africa must continue.
Here in The Gambia, we are all religious abiding Muslims or Christians. From a religious point of view, what does Islam, the religion I follow say about homosexuality?
There are five references in the Qur’an which have been cited as referring to gay and lesbian behaviour. Some obviously deal with effeminate men and “masculine women.” The two main references to homosexual behavior are:
“We also sent Lut : He said to his people : “Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds.” Qur’an 7:80-81
“What! Of all creatures do ye come unto the males, and leave the wives your Lord created for you? Nay, but ye are forward folk.” Qur’an 26:165
Both references relate to gay sexual activities; lesbian practices are not mentioned in the Qur’an. Lut is referred to as “Lot” in the Hebrew Scriptures. This passage is an apparent reference to the activities at Sodom and Gamorah. It seems to imply that there was no homosexual behaviour before it first appeared in Sodom. This is a uniquely Islamic concept; it does not appear in Jewish or Christian beliefs. The passage also links the sin of Sodom (the reason for its destruction) to homosexuality. That linkage is contradicted by other verses in the Hebrew Scriptures.
The hadith and homosexuality: The hadith are collections of sayings attributed to Muhammad. Many hadiths (ahadith) discuss liwat (sexual intercourse between males). Two examples are:
“When a man mounts another man, the throne of God shakes.”
“Kill the one that is doing it and also kill the one that it is being done to.” (in reference to the active and passive partners in gay sexual intercourse).
There is at least one mention of lesbian behaviour mentioned in the hadith: “Sihaq (lesbian sexual activity) of women is zina (illegitimate sexual intercourse) among them.”
Traditionalist orthodox Muslims generally claim that the hadith literature contains the authentic sayings of Muhammad. Many liberal Muslims doubt their authenticity. The latter might point out that during the times of the first Caliphs, Muslims did not know what to do with individuals guilty of “liwat/lutiyya”. No sahabi (companion) of Muhammad could quote a saying or decision of Muhammad relating to this question.
Now, how should Muslim in this day and age treatment homosexuals? According to a pamphlet produced by Al-Fatiha, there is a consensus among Islamic scholars that all humans are naturally heterosexual. Homosexuality is seen by scholars to be a sinful and perverted deviation from the norm. All Islamic schools of thought and jurisprudence consider gay acts to be unlawful. They differ in terms of penalty:
The Hanafite school (currently seen mainly in South and Eastern Asia) teaches that no physical punishment is warranted. The Hanabalites, (widely followed in the Arab world) teach that severe punishment is warranted. The Sha’fi school of thought (also seen in the Arab world) requires a minimum of 4 adult male witnesses before a person can be found guilty of a homosexual act. The Al-Fatiha article I read estimates that 4,000 homosexuals have been executed in Iran since their revolution in 1979; 10 public executions of homosexuals have been performed in Afghanistan by the Taliban army.
Sheikh Babung Bojang
Let us not be complacent with Ebola
I write to express my worry about the public’s attitude towards Ebola. Since the tests have proved that the two suspected travelers from Guinea did not have Ebola, people in The Gambia have stopped worrying about the fatal disease. I want to remind everyone that the threat of Ebola remains and it is a clear and present public health danger in The Gambia given the free movement of people between The Gambia and the affected countries.
I applaud the Health minister Dr Omar Sey and his workers’ vigilance and I support the air travel ban on Sierra Leone and Guinea, but if I were Dr Sey I would have even advised the Office of the President to defer the current ‘Dialogue With the People Tour’ until such a time the coast is totally clear of Ebola.
Nonetheless, we all need to remember that continuing public education to raise awareness of the risk factors of Ebola infection and the protective measures individuals can take is key to prevent and reduce human infection and deaths as a result. There is no vaccine or medicine for the disease.
Gambians should avoid direct contact with fruit bats, chimpanzees, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found dead or ill in the bush; avoid direct contact with body fluids of a person suffering from Ebola by using protective materials like gloves, goggles, and masks; disinfect the beddings and clothing of an infected person with disinfectant; people who have died from Ebola should be promptly and safely buried under strict supervision; report any suspected cases of Ebola to the nearest health unit immediately; avoid washing of hands from common bowl during funeral rites and other public gatherings; provide information to people about the nature of the disease, how it spreads, and how it can be prevented.
Mam Sohna Njie