“It’s wise for clerics to remain neutral when politicians are involved in a brawl,” Imam Momodou Ceesay tells Kairo News.
“Politicians everywhere will engage in on and off fight. But they usually get along when it is time to govern, which I think will happen in the Gambia. I am not personally taking sides in the current political fight by picking winners and losers. I am concerned about the insults being hauled at Ousainou Darboe who was victimised for standing tall for Gambians. When the going gets tough, we turn to Ousainou but now that the dust settles some people haul insults at him. Is that fair? Scriptures teach us to honour and respect our leaders. I respect and honour all these leaders for bailing out oppressed Gambians. We owe them respect and not insults.”
Ceesay, also the Chief Resident Imam of Detroit Islamic Center, says any cleric that takes sides in the current brawl loses the right to negotiate in a future problem. “How can I negotiate peace between these leaders when I publicly take sides? Any of them has the right to disqualify me, which is why I want my colleagues to remain neutral, preach and pray for peace and unity in the country. Let religious leaders get out of the ring when the water is muddy. Muddy ring should be left for politicians and their supporters.”
Imam Ceesay wants Gambians to vote in peace and return to normal life. “We must not only vote our leaders into office, we are also obliged to respect them. We should challenge them on their policies and programs and avoid personality attacks. The focus must not be about their personality or tribe. We can politic without being tribal,” Imam Ceesay advises.
“It’s not bad to be a politician who is the equivalent of an administrator. “Campaign is also the same as dawah (call to a cause). Prophets serve as administrators and rally people to their cause. Unlike politicians who talk about world affairs, prophets preach about the next world. Anyone who calls people to a cause is involved in some form of politics,” he says.
Ceesay explains that he is within the religious sanctity to take on the Gambia’s ousted President. “I follow into the footsteps of prophets who fought against anyone who killed or exiled innocent people. I didn’t have problem with Yahya Jammeh until he started misinterpreting the Holy Quran, killing people and , bragging about it. If I had not condemned Jammeh’s excesses then I would fail my congregation and Gambians in general. Leadership is all about standing for the weak, poor or victims. My voice too matters in the fight to take down an ignorant tyrant bent on destroying everything Gambian.”