Propaganda Blunder By Our Diaspora Activists

Dr. Zakir Naik
Dr. Zakir Naik

Unless we live in reality, we will continue to crave darkness claiming to be looking for solutions to our country’s political problem, which has become the root cause of all our problems. We have to understand the reality that President Jammeh has not been in power for 20 years due to madness or stupidity. He has been doing something that has worked and continue to work. In that case what then is our responsibility if we want to score points and make impact on the lives of our people. We need to get those facts absolutely right before we proceed otherwise we will be rambling in the dark.

In the court of public opinion, the great United States is willing to wheel its military might against countries they deem ‘an enemy’. Sometimes it bombed countries on issues that could have been easily resolved diplomatically. For the Super power US, if the public demands blood then so be it.

The Mighty Zionist power of Israel, the fourth strongest military power in the world, occasionally wages wars against Palestinians on grounds which can easily be negotiated and resolved, but the public demands blood, and blood is therefore spilled to justify an end.

Yet, the simple politics of observing public opinion and battling it out with President Jammeh and his secretive advisers, who are Gambians like us, educated in western Universities, and some in his University of the Gambia, we failed woefully as a collective activist force in countering his propaganda machinery effectively.

It beats my imagination as to why we in the first place make so much meal out of Dr Zakir Naik’s visit at the expense of talking about the 20 years records of the July 22. Dr Zakir Naik was the Muslim personality of 2013, , his Oxford University lecture to scholars and intellectuals means he is accepted globally as a force in both the academic and religious circles.

Dr Zakir Naik’s Islamic Relief Foundation publishes lecture materials globally on countering anti-Islamic views and books around world. His oratory skills and capacity to memorise world religious scriptures is yet unmatched. Such a man who relish debating with non-Muslims landed on the shores of a predominantly liberal Muslim country, the Gambia, was not a small propaganda coup by President Jammeh.

Each day, it is reported that, there is either a book, an article, a TV show, a bulletin published against Islam. The few men who stood up to defend Islam methodically and intellectually was headed by the man who wrote the book that inspired the late Sheik Ahamed Dedat who inspired Dr Zakir Niak, who’s currently inspiring millions of Muslims across the globe on how to respond and counter western media attacks on Islam and the under current Christian Missionary continued work in Africa and Asia.

Amongst the most famous and well known Muslim defenders of Islam against Orientalist in the media, states whose existence and politics it is to see chaos in the Muslim lands, and missionaries from other faiths are: Sabir Ali of Canada, Jamal Badawi of Canada, Dr Bilal Philips, Dr Hakim Quick, Abdul Rahim Green, Usain Yee, to them all, Dr Zakir Naik.

Yet, Dr Naik’s trip to the Gambia was not a recipe to antagonise Christian minorities, just like a visit by Pope Francis or the Arch Bishop of England to visit the Gambia is meant to antagonise Muslims.

The last person who will genuinely promote religious purity will be the Gambian dictator. The entire make up of President Jammeh is fraudulent and pretentious. However, his grooming during the PPP era exposed him to understanding the significance and vitality of religion in the Gambia. Both Christians and Muslims take their religion seriously in our country, bar the few elites who indulge behind protected walls.

President Jammeh’s sponsoring of Dr Zakir Naik’s trip would have came about at the suggestion of Gambia University lecturer Omar/Ousman Jah and the likes. There are people whose personal ambitions comes in the way genuine goal to see Islam flourish in the Gambia. President Jammeh brought Zakir Naik to brush his animist alter-ego drummed up regularly in the online media.  Gambians activist whilst aiming their guns at the prominent Indian scholar ended up creating more sympathy for President Jammeh, indirectly painting the picture that, we in diaspora are all atheist, renegade Muslim (Murtads) those who abandon their Islamic creed.

To majority of Gambian Muslims, Islam is at the centre of their universe, thus attacking a foreign Muslim personality to the statue of Dr Zakir Naik is akin to scoring own goals.  Speaking to many young Gambian Muslims on the ground, our overreaction backfired. Open religious discussions is a regular staple occurrences in University campuses across Europe and America. Comparative religious studies is nothing new, and Dr Naik’s expertise on world scriptures means, he is equipped to drum the Muslim end.

Gambian activist must stand up and make Yahya Jammeh their business, going after foreign dignitaries, preachers, heads of state in an undiplomatic manner will cause us more isolation and demonstrating our lack of grasp of how world opinion is shaped. Let us avoid making a mess of simple situations. Dr Naik is not a Gambian and cannot influence Gambian internal policies, therefore, let us sort out our own elephant in the room. Attacking Zakir Naik for fanning religious hatred in the Gambia is baseless and unfounded. Gambian Christians have been using their schools to target vulnerable Gambians Muslims from poor backgrounds, remember Sir Dawda Jawara, Andrew Camara, Paul Bah, LO Sanneh, and many other Gambians for conversation to their faith. Our mutual religious tolerance will continue, unless Gambian Christians and Muslims decided to end it, which is highly unlikely.

The personal respect and love Gambian Muslims have the Christian community is visible and felt throughout the country. This is demonstrated through the celebrations of Christian events. Barack Obama invited President Jammeh to the Washington Africa meeting. The world is telling us that, President Jammeh has his legitimacy by default being our head of state, therefore, unless we end that, we cannot stop people having dealings with him. Let us now engage in covert diplomacy and communicate more effectively rather than alienating ourselves.



  1. Janko Camara

    What a wonderfully written and logically argued article! Bravo. The author has won my admiration.

    He is spot-on. I concur with the view that the attacks against Dr. Naik are misdirected and counter-productive. Unwittingly, those literally calling for the head of the learned scholar have only succeeded in discrediting themselves. The bottomline is: We need to make as much effort (if not more) to understand our Deen as we are making to earn a living. The soul needs to be nourished as much as the body, however, most of us seem to be more interested in what is seen i.e. the body. May we be guided aright by Him who created us from the begining.

    The suggest the article be shared with all other online Gambian news outlets.

  2. Janko Camara

    Sorry, the last line should be read “I suggest the article be shared with all other online Gambian news outlets”.

  3. I agree too Janko. The piece is a good advise. In as much as i consider myself a secular animal the words ring true.

  4. Well said…Sometimes, the actions and utterances of some diaspora activists, could actually be “helping” Jammeh, by winning him sympathy and support at home, whilst obstructing the struggle abroad…

    The attacks against Dr Zakir Naik were at best, ignorant and at worst, damn right foolish, with no strategic importance or relevance to the struggle whatsoever. …

    I was a bit concerned ( because these were the voices of the struggle) and simply amazed at the level.of ignorance displayed by the participants of an online phone in session, in one of its programmes to discuss Dr Naik’s visit to The Gambia..

    However, I was shocked, when the proprietor of the online medium played a (YouTube) clip of a guy, who claimed to have discovered 25 “mistakes” in a 5 minute clip of Dr Naik….

    It wasn’t what was said (25 “mistakes”) that shocked me, but the proprietor’s reaction and comments…I have no doubt whatsoever that this clip was used without any prior research into its source, but simply because it was made against a man who was Jammeh’s guest, and in his (proprietor’s) view, a target for ridicule, in order to “reach” at Jammeh. ..

    If he had done a bit of research, he would have known that the guy who made that clip, is a man named Nabil Quraish, a self confessed Ahmadiyya “Muslim”, who has converted to Christianity and now makes it his life long duty to attack Islam.and “proof” that our messenger was not a true messenger of God….Only an ignorant Muslim would use Nabil Quraish against Dr Zakir Naik. …

    This struggle needs reorientation and redirection. ….Too many distractions..Too.many “leaders”…

  5. Luntango Suun Gann Gi

    “We have to understand that Jammeh has not been in power for 20 years because of madness and stupidity”. So so true Suntou.

  6. Suntou you have hit the nail on the head, what a great piece of work, and foresight.

  7. Yankuba Jobe

    Be blessed Mr Suntu Touray! Personally, the hypocrits would never succeed.

  8. Am impressed

  9. malamin fatty

    A man who I will not name because I do not like to agree with him once said ” If Gambian’s are serious about removing Jammeh they will unite and force him out”
    All these blunders, lack of direction and lack of basic organization is due to lack of unity. If there is a united diaspora organization with one voice such blunders will not happen because press releases would be thoroughly vetted.

  10. Badou Secka

    Sontu I do not like discussing religious issues because it is always a sensitive matter. But I am tempted to throw in a few comments here. I believe your article was to a large extent balance but I take issue with the second to last paragraph which I reproduce below for easy reference.

    “Gambian Christians have been using their schools to target vulnerable Gambians Muslims from poor backgrounds, remember Sir Dawda Jawara, Andrew Camara, Paul Bah, LO Sanneh, and many other Gambians for conversation to their faith. Our mutual religious tolerance will continue, unless Gambian Christians and Muslims decided to end it, which is highly unlikely.”

    I am definitely older than you and do not know which school you went to but I attend missionary schools both at primary and high School and I and my muslim colleagues although poor at the time were not targeted for conversion into christianity. In fact we attended our Islamic studies while our Christian colleagues went to church. You see Suntou I am a muslim and my grandmother was a christian and today i have relatives who are christians. I therefore do not see Christian as aliens as some Muslims see them today especially those who were born and brought up in some rural areas where they they never interacted with Christians.
    I am saying this because just recently I was on trekk in rural Gambia and went to attend Friday prayers and was disgusted to hear the Imam of this particular Mosque advising Muslims to avoid interacting with Christians and to avoid attending Christian functions such as weddings, feasts, funeral etc. interestingly this particular Imam had just a month earlier been operated on my a christian eye specialist for his cataract and I also understand that a year earlier was operated on for hernia complications by a Cuban Doctor. The point I am making here is that although these examples are anecdotal, there are many Gambians today with these backward ideas and I believe may harbour these ideas secretly. It is even worst when religious leaders say these kind of rubbish. Granted all religious leaders are expected to propagate their faith , but I believe they should be responsible in the way it is done.. The fact of the matter is that there are today many religious bigots, and tribalists in the Gambia and when they are comfortable within their own group/clan you will be surprised what they say about the others. My advice to all of Gambians is to liberate themselves, their families and relatives of all prejudice.

    • Badou
      I too went to a Christian school in Basse, and in the rural areas, people do have interaction with Christians, the Mansuwankos and the like. The analogy I made is about people over hyping a rather unnecessary alarmist scenario. Religion by its nature is for propagation and both Muslims, Christians, AHamdist, Bahai, “Secularist” are all attempting to bring people to their end. It is not a bad thing, so long as we accept it as a reality in our interactions. In close doors as well, some Christians do have unpleasant views of Muslims. What people do in close doors or in their comfort zones should not be our business.
      The war between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria was ignited partly due to the mission schools being a conduit for converting young poor Muslims students to Christianity, to have access to scholarship and further educations. The parents were at lost in how to handle the trend, things boiled over, in Sierra Leon, where I was born, it is a common trend for Muslims students to convert to Christianity to attain opportunities. Many rather took the cynical title ‘Chris-Mus’ meaning Christian-Muslims by blending both religions.
      What I was saying is that, Dr Naik is a missionary and he will visit any country where he is invited, by whoever. Likewise, the Evangelist preachers will accept invitation to sell the Gospel, Muslim preachers too will accept open invitations. It is up to us to tolerate each other, and accept that, we can never all see life in the same looking glass. I respect and cherish our blend of faith, cultures and heritages. The Prophet Muhammed had many discussions with Christian emissaries in his Mosque, he receive them well, treated them well, and call them, “people of the book”.

  11. Luntango Suun Gann Gi

    Mr. Secka, you make very good points very well. I would only make one small point. My Gambian daughter attends school in a Hijab (her choice) in UK. Even Christian schools allow the Hijab in UK. In The Gambia, Christian schools with 90 per cent Muslim pupils will NOT allow Hijab. Why?

  12. Mandinmorry I think defending Dr.Zaik’s visit to the Gambia is wrong and hypocritical to say the least. If the Dr is so Islamic, so interested in social justice as Islam preached it, He should have stayed away from the Gambia. I for one do not think or believe that he is what many claimed him to be, a scholar of the highest moral standard and a missionary on road to expand Islam. This doctor should not honour an invitation by our people’s killer. No matter how much the wise and the prudent tries to restore the glorious image of this INDIAN MAN, the efforts would render futile and helpless to our course of forming a democratic secular Gambia. He should stay away from Jammeh propaganda and consider rallying around the poor and the disadvantaged Gambians. I would advise him to TALK to MODI, the prime minister of his country to come clean on allegations made against him for allowing the slaughter of thousands of Indian Muslims.Charity, they said begins at home.

    • Suntou Touray

      Kebba, I am baffled at your attempt to make a foreign personality comprehend our entire political debacle in its entirety. This is our problem, we cannot pass the buck. Dr Naik, Barrack Obama, Goodluck Jonathan, Macky Sall and all the foreign heads of states who have regular and diplomatic dealings with Jammeh will continue to do so, so long as he remains our legitimate head of state.
      Dr Naik is under no obligation to decline his visitation to the Gambia because some of us criticise and brand Jammeh a dictator. You have to remember, it was a Gambian delegation that facilitated his visit. Nyancho, the more we lack the foresight to understand our Gambian public opinion, the more we will play to the gallery. We can make noise online and attack Jammeh day and night, but will we make tangible impact?

      What is the Gambian public opinion in a dictatorship, where a loaf of bread is over D5, a bag of rice is over D1000? What will they respond to? We are looking at our own personal satisfaction in our politics to what the public will respond to. Obama will do anything, to win over the public, are we doing that? No. Criticising Dr Naik will further alienate us, if experience activist want to live in denial, let them carry on.

  13. Patrick Mendy

    I see the angle which Suntou is coming from and it appears his additional beef is more to do with the attempted evangelization of poor and vulnerable Muslims by Christian Missionaries in Sierra Leone in etc, etc. Badou Secka, I guess this debate can be pointless. Let everyone keep to their own religion and live in peace.
    Having said that I do not expect Badou to answer Luntango Suun Gann Gi question. I do not think he is responsible for the Christian runs schools in the Gambia. I will add however that Muslim Senior Secondary School, Nusrat and other Muslim run schools do not provide for Christian religious teaching for the minority Christians attending their schools yet there is Islamic Religious teaching in Christian run schools. I must commend these Western Christian countries like the UK, US, Western Europe in general for tolerating all religions to flourish in their countries and allow Muslims to practice their faith openly. They even allow big mosques to be built and your radical clerics to call them infidels -now try building a church in countries like Saudi Arabia- they will decapitate your head. You will be surprised to know that even private worship for Christians is forbidden is Saudi Arabia and that non Muslims are not allowed to venture within 30 kilometers from Mecca.
    What bothers me with you guys is that you sit in the West and castigate them for not respecting Islam etc,etc, etc while we know how non Muslims are treated in these Sharia/ Muslim countries. Ask the Pilipino Christian maids who work in these Muslim/ Islamic states. Please, Luntag and your Hijab, and your sympathizers pack your “dobous” and migrate to Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Sudan, Abu Dabi and leave the Christian West. I believe all you guys should be under surveillance for I believe you nature some anti-Christian and anti-West sentiments and you are just camouflaging it in brilliant English- Suntou included. Don’t shove you religion down the throats of other. People are even free not to follow any religion and whether you like it or not Gambia remains a Secular State with an Animist President. PEACE

    • Patrick, least you forget, the topic is about religious propagation and it’s effect in the Gambia. If you want to talk about individual personal crimes against others, then you may want to go back to slave trade (trans-atlantic to Sahara), the first world war, second world war, nuclear weapon, carpet bombings, colonialism, and its effect, the looting of Africas resources, the lack of access to international markets, all forms of injustices, etc etc, and then share the blame, who will get the largest share of the blame. However, on this topic, we are not talking about political and individual injustices and what bogus basis they use, we are talking about why we need to live in peace and propagate our respective religion in the Gambia in a civilise way. Talking about what some Arabs did here or there and why people live in the west is a whole kettle of fish. We will invite our Pan-Africanist to answer those questions, and Dida is a perfect one.
      I brought in Sierra Leon as an example where the Mission schools real motive worked, in the Gambia, it did not work effective because the elders of the past, suspect why the schools were open in the first place, the means to the end, not end to the means. The Word MISSION here needs to be understood conceptually. The Mission is to Christianise through educating the heathens (unbelievers, pagans) be they Jolas, Mansuwankas, Manjakos, Karonkas, Mandinkas, Fulas, Wollof etc. The success story was in the remote communities. We can go into why, the mission succeeded in certain communities and failed in others, but time may be of constraint. In any case, we love each other in the Gambia, and nothing will change that by God’s grace. Thanks

  14. Luntango Suun Gann Gi

    So St Patrick (Irish evangelized!), let me ask you the question. Why not allow the girls their Hijab? After all, even the UTG does.

    • Patrick Mendy

      It appears that you don’t easily give up Luntango. I or my parents may have been evangelized by the Irish and I am sure yours were also Islamized by the Arabs. By the way, I am sure you have issues with your people i.e.the Ethiopians. Your country seems to be dominated by Christian Orthodox despite the fact that you have a huge Muslim population especially among the Oromos. By the way, and out of curiosity are you Oromo?
      Luntango, if you have religious issues to sort out in your native country, go and sort it out and leave Gambian Muslims and Christians alone. Charity begins at home.
      By the way, I have just read a very well articulated article by a Lawrence Jabang on this online media. Please read it and tell me what you think. Another sober article I read about religion last week was from one Mr Loum. Tell me what you think about those 2 articles. Luntango I believe that you are probably an apostate. Although now a pronounced Muslim, I am sure you were a former Orthodox Christian from the Kingdom of Abyssinia. This great Christian nation that protected the Prophet Mohamed (PUBH) when he was chased by infidels who wanted to kill him in Arabia. On the other hand I believe your orientation is socialism- marxist. Luntango tell us who you are? What your are? and What you want?

      • Luntango Suun Gann Gi

        Ha! Ha! Ha! Patrick. Yes, I am Oromo and at the time of the Prophet (PBUH) the Oromo Empire encompassed the whole of Abysinia, Lower Nile Sudan and stretched all the way to the Rift Valley in Kenya. No issues with Islam or Christianity in Ethiopia Patrick (For the simple reason that the Toubab had nothing to do with either – our Christians are not called Patricks & Andrews etc – ha! ha! ha!). The rest of your questions are too much to answer, Bro – I have had a long day and I am tired! Bless U my son.

  15. Mandinmory, I understand you are baffled but the truth here is, a scholar of his so called calibre must not be seen dancing with those making mockery of the Islamic faith. I just can’t understand why, all of a sudden learned men of the highest order and experience would be welcoming a mixture of, what seems clear, a killer and a so called Muslim cleric. This is wrong and hypocritical to say the least. I am a muslim but a Gambian first. We have seen religions and pseudo-religious leaders were used to confuse, intimidate and hold a whole nation with contempt and lack of empathy. Let these muslim opportunists join us against our common enemy. The Dr. came for a pARTY Mandingmorry, and so he should be dancing AFFINJANG with Jammeh instead.

    • Haha, Nyancho. Dr does not do Afinjang. In any case, let us work on our diplomacy and lobbying skills. If not, we will be hitting the footmarks instead of the actual thing. Outsiders cannot comprehend our problems better than us, so we have to target them before the regime get to them. I am impressed with the folks in Geneva, our own Musa Siadykhan, a victim of torture and inhumane treatment and Dr Janneh, drumming up our concerns, but a lot quiet diplomacy went into overdrive to put the Gambia on the defensive, thus shaking the government people. We need more lobbying, be they Muslim missionaries, Christian Missionaries, etc, we need to write to them, explaining matters better, who knows whether they are working on the Arch Bishop of Canterbury…Thanks anyway.

  16. Synth suntu May god bless you, right on target. You know some stupid people even bent on insulting innocent Cuban doctors whom with their limited resources are helping Gambians, and they will even call petty Lebanese or any Arab trader hijibanllah terrorist simply because they don’t like babili masa jammeh.

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