By Mafugi Ceesay
A TRRC witness has accused renowned Islamic preacher, Zakir Naik of influencing former Gambian leader to declare The Gambia an Islamic state.
Philip Saine, who appeared before the truth commission yesterday added: “The visit of Zakir Naik was what ignited the religious intolerance and hatred in the country because Naik is someone known for attacking the Christian faith by claiming to know the Bible than the Pope. He should not have been allowed entry to the country and more so, to be accorded a diplomatic passport”.
Saine went on to disclose that after declaring the country an Islamic state under the dictates of Zakir Naik, Jammeh also promised to change the country’s constitution to Sharia law.
Saine alleged that because of this promise, the Christian community requested to have a meeting with Jammeh but were turned down. “Jammeh said he did not entertain such discussions during the month of Ramadan,” the witness stated.
Saine argued that former president Jammeh, being a disciple of Zakir used the declaration to impose on the National Assembly to address the country an Islamic state.
“Zakir is a man who is taken out of his own country and banned in Canada, UK, America among other countries for his attacks on the Christian faith spreading of religious intolerance or radicalisation,” the witness said.
He further said “soon after the declaration, the Banjul Muslim elders paid Jammeh a solidarity visit to congratulate him on a declaration that could have torn apart religious tolerance in our communities”.
Imam Fatty accused
Turning to what he called home-grown influence on Jammeh, Mr Saine alleged that the former head of state was also influenced by his former State House Imam Abdoulie Fatty.
Saine said Fatty too is known for his religious radical comments towards other faiths.
He said the actions of the former Gambian head of state were supported by his religious intolerance towards other faiths, which made him publish an executive order in The Daily Observer of June 8, 2016, commanding the police to ban church drumming and dancing during Ramadan.
He said imposing such on the society that live in harmony is a violation of rights of the Christian community who suffered arrest and detention because of such a ban during Ramadan.
He said a Christian delegation sent to the Office of the IGP was told that the release was not extended to Christian worshipers.
“All these were harassments targeting the Christian community because no such order was made during the Christian fasting period.”
He concluded that the former Gambian leader’s frequent attack on Christians made them unite more against him by joining hands with Muslims to vote him out.