#Gambia: Removal of Mosques in Public Places
A sickening sensation assailed me when the NAM for Banjul South, Touma Njie called for the removal of mosques in public places in The Gambia. Just when I started my recuperation from that sickness, from the comfort of my therapeutic cave, Omar Amadou Jallow of all people re-echoed similar sentiments in his recent interview with Omar Waly of the Fatu Network. The Gambia must not be drawn in by such attention-grabbing headlines from politicians who should have known better. I struggle to wrap my head around the arguments put forth for such an insensitive inconsiderate pronouncement due to the lack of cogency or plausibility of such arguments. The reasoning behind this pronouncement is deeply flawed, at least from my vantage point.
What would the removal of mosques from public places do for The Gambia? Is the presence of these mosques one of the reasons or the main reason why we are languishing at the foot of the development ladder? Is the presence of these mosques jeopardizing the peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Christians? Are these mosques draining our meager pecuniary resources, hence militating against government’s ability to provide funding for other development-oriented programs? Did the Christians consider this discriminatory or unfair because they also wish to establish churches in public places and start praying five times daily in those churches, hence a demonstration effect? Does the presence of these mosques have a pernicious influence on the decision-making or policy-formulating process of the government? Would this predominantly Muslim country be better off or receive a fortune stroke of serendipity by removing mosques in all public places? What would be the benefit to us as a people and as a country?
It is just perplexing to hear a lawmaker in The Gambia where about 95% of the people are Muslims whose religious practice obligates them to pray five times daily; preferably in a mosque due to the exponentiality of the reward per their belief, call for an immediate or eventual cessation of such an opportunity. One thing that is certainly not going anywhere is the five daily prayers performed by Muslims. So, if we remove mosques from public places, are we also going to pass a law that would stop these Muslims from praying in public places? Our national assembly members ought to be reminded of their duty and responsibility to make laws that would protect us and help improve our economic and social well-being while strengthening our democracy and the rule of law. An attempt to just appease some group or seek attention is just not good enough and should be frowned upon. The Athenian philosopher Plato said, “wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.” It is our fervent belief that we sent only wise men to the national assembly to form the legislative branch of the government, so please do not prove us wrong.
There are burning national issues that require the swift attention of our lawmakers. I suggest you preoccupy yourselves with passing laws meant to fix our broken system, rather than attempt to offer solutions to problems that do not exist. The presence of mosques in public places has never militated against our development or advancement as a country, nor has it been considered discriminatory or unfair by the Christian community. The peaceful coexistence between these two religious denominations in The Gambia remains intact.
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