The President with basketball full of rhetoric surprises is once again grabbing national and international headlines. Of all his dialogue with the people tours, this year’s will be remembered for the insults, vulgar language, banning of female circumcission and threats on the opposition. No one – not even leaders in Senegal, Imams, traditional leaders and Gambian women – were spared the wrath of President Yahya Jammeh’s loose tongue.
President Jammeh is like a mad dog that is good at barking and biting, and nothing else. So it was not a surprise when he declared “The Gambia an Islamic state” at a Brufut rally on Thursday. His declaration was preceded by Jammeh’s belaboured rhetoric that “The Gambia’s destiny is in the hands of the Almighty Allah. As from today, Gambia is an Islamic state. We will be an Islamic state that will respect the rights of the citizens.”
The dictator, who enjoys issuing declarations without consulting other arms of the government or minding about the resulting ramifications, says his latest move is another step to distance The Gambia from its colonial past. Jammeh cited similar reason to singlehandedly pull the country out of the Commonwealth in October 2013.
He says “as Muslims are the majority in the country, The Gambia cannot afford to continue the colonial legacy.” The President therefore proclaims The Gambia an Islamic state, in line with its religious identity and values.
The Gambia has been a secular state since it attained independence from Great Britain in 1965, despite having 95 percent Muslim population. President Jammeh’s declaration will send shocking wave among the minority Christian population, although he tries to calm down fears that there will not be the Saudi type Islamic police [Mukabarat] to enforce strict rules.
The hypocrisy in Mr. Jammeh’s Brufut declaration is evident when he says “it is no one’s business to tell girls what to put on.” Perhaps the President is defending his teenage daughter and wife who both wear pants. Was he not the same leader who mocked and insulted Gambian women for wearing skinny pants, which according to him, make them infertile.
Jammeh enters the Brufut rally, amid musical fanfare only to make such a declaration moments later. He is simply manifesting mockery of Islam.
What more choice does President Jammeh have other than trying to woo the Arab world to extort money from them when his government’s major donor [European Union] withheld aid money over poor human rights record?