The Supreme Islamic Council poses a clear and present danger to the Gambia because of the bigoted belligerence they have consistently directed at a group of Gambians on account of their religious beliefs. The members of the Ahmadiyya community are Gambian citizens whose right to practice their faith is entrenched in our Constitution that all Gambians must respect and protect without reservation. Any position that damages human rights poses a direct threat to national security and a fertile ground for terrorism.
Section 25 subsection 1(C) clearly stipulates that every citizen has a right to practice any religion and to manifest such practice. In view of this provision, no individual or group in the Gambia has the power or authority to therefore deny any other group or person to practice and manifest his or her religion.
Furthermore Section 33 states clearly that all persons are equal before the law. It went further to state that no person shall be discriminated on account of his religion, colour, sex or political opinion among others. Hence by asking PURA not to grant a television license to the Ahmadiyya Jama’at on account of their religious belief is a clear affront to the Constitution by the Supreme Islamic Council.
Section 33 has categorically made it clear that no public officer shall discriminate against any person in the performance of his or her function. Hence when the Supreme Islamic Council asked PURA not to grant the Ahmadiyya Jama’at a television license because of their religious beliefs, it means the Supreme Islamic Council is therefore asking the Director General of PURA, who is a public officer to discriminate against citizens on account of their religious believe. I hope the Director General of PURA had immediately thrown that obnoxious letter of the Council into the dustbin of shame where it rightfully belongs!
It is utterly unfortunate and a matter of great concern that a legally registered organization such as the Supreme Islamic Council would ask a public authority to directly violate the Gambian Constitution by discriminating against fellow Gambians. The Supreme Islamic Council must understand that they are not elected representatives of the Gambia nor are they the Divine Custodians of Islam or any other religion in the Gambia. Rather the Supreme Islamic Council is a mere civil society organization like any other civil society organization in the Gambia. Hence the Council must limit itself to the promotion and practice of its religious beliefs and let others also concern themselves to the promotion and practice of their religious beliefs.
The action of the Supreme Islamic Council therefore constitutes violence because they are not only directly attacking the very freedom of religion of a body of citizens but they are also directly attacking the existence of this group. It is clear that if the Supreme Islamic Council has the powers in this country, they would certainly kill and uproot the Ahmadiyya community out of the Gambia.
For that matter the relevant authorities in the Gambia Government must summon the Supreme Islamic Council to put it to them that they cannot persecute other Gambians. The Council must be told that their continued attack on the Ahmadiyya community constitutes religious intolerance and discrimination hence pose a direct threat to national security. This unconstitutional action by the Council is indeed the very seeds that give birth to violent extremism or terrorism as we see in other parts of the world.
The Gambia Government and all Gambians must therefore stand up, before it is too late to demand that the Supreme Islamic Council withdraw their letter to PURA or they face prosecution for perpetrating a violation of the Constitution and the sovereign rights of citizens.
The determination of the faith of any person or group is not the function of the Supreme Islamic Council or any other person or authority in the Gambia. The laws of the Gambia guarantee that any Gambian has a right to belief or not belief in any religion of their choice. We must not therefore allow any person or group to arrogate to itself the power and the authority to determine who are believers or non-believers of any religion.
For the Gambia, Our Homeland.