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, http://www.irf.net/ , 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.