Gambian opposition leader wants Muslim clerics to stand tall or firm for their mistreated colleagues. Lawyer Ousainou Darboe says Imams have to break the culture of silence, which has not worked.
Darboe’s comments come at a time when The Gambia government is illegally holding two Muslim clerics at a regional prisons in Jan Janbureh. No reasons have been advanced for the arrest and subsequent detention without trial of Alh. Ousman Sawaneh and Cherno Gassama, Imams of Kanifing and Darsilameh, respectively.
“Stand up for your detained fellow imams if you want to be on the right side of history,” the Secretary General of the United Democratic Party tells a Tanje rally. The calls on the Gambian religious leaders to come out of their shadows and join the fight to free their colleagues have been getting louder.
Since 1994 when President Yahya Jammeh came to power, Gambians from all walks of life or categories have had their rights infringed by state security agents. Assaults on Imams have become common as evidenced by the arrest, detention and torture of Alh. Karamo Touray (the late Imam of Brikama Central Mosque), Ba-kawsu Fofana (Imam of Sanchaba Sulay Jobe) and Baba Leigh (Imam of Kanifing.
It is very unfortunate that it is only in the Gambia that Imams throw each other under the bus for material and position gains.
They have a lot to answer to Allah.
In fact Imams need to be defended by their congregations, including leaders of opposition parties, who need to be in the forefront of not only condemning the arrest and illegal detention of Imams but also heading demonstrations against these. We must not wait for Imams to stand for their colleagues. Darboe’s call is commendable but is only the very basic of what we are able to do for religious leaders.