Bashed for bigotry – and rightly

Imam Fatty should do us a favour and keep quiet.

His recent anti-Ahmadi comments are as hare-brained as they get. They border on bigotry. Little wonder they backfired spectacularly. And unless he shows some respect, straight-thinking people should continue to vigorously give him a piece of their mind.

I was not going to be drawn into this Imam Fatty conversation but for the brilliant piece of Dom Bai Sainey Darboe. In the article published last week on Freedom Newspaper online, Dom Bai held that the thick-lipped fussed man of an imam’s repugnance of Ahmadi Muslims isn’t new anchoring it on encounters he had with him when he worked as editor-in-chief of The Standard.

Imam Fatty’s latest show of bigotry came at the back of latest round of confrontation between Muslim Ahmadis and Muslim Sunnis over use of a cemetery in Tallinding. And in his view, it was “high time the Supreme Islamic Council wrote a letter to the government to tell them they don’t recognise the Ahmadis as Muslims”. What bravado!

That Imam Fatty’s comments last week drew immediate attention is due, in no little part, to the traits we saw in him when served as Imam of State House – controversial, political and strident.

Indeed, right to today, Imam Fatty never got it right when it comes to Ahmadi Muslims. He has been consistent in his call for Ahmadis to be banned in The Gambia, citing Pakistan as an example.  

Impressively, Gambians understand here is not Pakistan and they have leapt to the defence of the supremacy of our constitution. It remains the supreme law of The Gambia. Any other law found to be inconsistent with any provision of it should be rubbished.

And we have this same constitution that places – in whole and in immediacy – sovereignty in the hands of the people. The Christians. The Sunnis. The Ahmadis. The idolaters. Everyone.

Yet, our nation’s commitment to religious freedom and equality pre-dates Imam Fatty. Yet, what happened in Tallinding is the second of its kind in three years – and reminds us of cleavages rooted in religion.

And we now understand we have scholars who use their stature in society to further these dangerous cleavages.

And we now have to find a way to deal with our people whose utterances threaten our most basic ideals as a nation. There’s need for a more vocal and active Ahmadi Muslim community. They are Gambians and so need to take a more proactive role in society.

All of us need to not only stand up for Ahmadi Muslims but for all who face discrimination.

Lamin  Njie wrote from Serekunda. You can email him at lsbnjie@gmail.com

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