The caliph general of Darsilami Sangnajor caliphate last week opened his defence at the Brikama Magistrate’s Court. But Sheikh Sheriff Muhideen Hydara refused to swear on the holy Quran. Hydara and the village alkalo Buyeh Touray have been standing trial disobedience of lawful order. They are accused of deifying the presidential order. Both men maintain their innocence.
Shortly before the trial started, the Magistrate Omar Cham granted the caliph to give his testimony while seating. Defence lawyer Antouman Gaye application was premised on his client’s poor health condition.
The Caliph was asked to raise his hands and say “I swear by the Almighty Allah that the evidence I shall give before this court shall be the truth; the whole truth, nothing but the truth. So help me God.”
Hydara said he has been the Caliph General of Dasilameh Sanghajor for five years. He said until his death in July last year, Malaine Hydara was the imam of the village for ten years. The caliph admitting knowing Buyeh Touray who was the alkalo of the village for 8 years until his dismissal.
At this juncture, Lawyer Gaye’s application for adjournment was granted. The case was adjourned to March 16 when Hydara would continue his evidence in court.
At an earlier session, Buyeh Touray opened his defence, questioning the powers of the Supreme Islam Council. He said he was not aware that Imam Abdoulie Fatty [erstwhile Imam of State House] and the council have the powers to make laws and enforce them on Muslims.
The 2nd accused added that he was not aware that Islam council have any power to make laws in The Gambia enforcing the date of prayers on people. The accused also refuted knowing any law that sets specific day for people to perform Idul-ul-Fitr. Rather, he said, religious teachings advise Muslims to pray after sighting the moon. “In our case, the moon was sighted on Monday and we prayed on Tuesday.
let Jammeh stop wasting these elderly men’s time and show them respect. The charges brought against these elders do not make any sense. The gambia under jammeh’s rule is simply tragic…
In matters of religion, the state should be secular, meaning that the state should be neutral to allow all religions to flourish but not to allow any religion to trample on the right of anybody to worship or to practice their faith in another religion or to worship this way or that way, etc.
The problem is, the Gambia leader who has another agenda from Gambians refused to recognize this constitutional fact. This is why he said ‘Secularism is hypocrisy’ and asked: “how one can become secular when one is a Muslim?” He asserted that it would not happen as long as he is the leader of the Gambia.
The Gambia is lucky somewhat because maybe our size and of course the tolerance society has had for a very long time and may be because of the clarity among the people regarding religion. We must nurture this clarity and tolerance to avoid mayhem because there will always be selfish politicians and individuals whether in government or outside it who would do anything to fan sectarian tensions for opportunist gains. But when the people become aware, no such type would succeed. As you can see the trial is still seen by the people as some kind of joke and not taken seriously by them. Everyone is simply waiting to see how far the state will go to trample on the right of the individual in such a blatant fashion. This is the height of tolerance we must insist as a people.