The Lead Counsel at Gambia’s Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission Ensa Faal, has apologized to Gambians for his failure to speak up against Jammeh’s twenty-two years regime, which later ushered in Africa’s most brutal dictatorship. “We are sorry for not speaking up against the former regime. You are right. We were quiet during Jammeh’s dictatorship. Our failure to speak up had effectively embolden the dictatorship,” Faal remarked.

The former International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor was reacting to a statement made by Imam Abdoulie Fatty, who apparently had called out Faal for not speaking out during Jammeh’s regime.

This followed Faal’s claim that it was illegal for the Supreme Islamic Council to deny Islamic Clerics the right to preach and worship their faith. He also said it was illegal for Jammeh to tell the Council to deny Cleric permits to preach in Gambian mosques.

Imam Fatty maintains that the Supreme Islamic Council had acted rightly by denying preaching license to some Muslim Clerics. He opines that Faal’s denunciation of the Council and Jammeh rather came too late. He argues that Faal should have raised his concerns during Jammeh’s rule than waiting until the new era of free Gambia.

“I will be happy if Yahya Jammeh hears what you are saying. Your statement should have come twenty years ago; that would have been more helpful to the country. All of us were here; and had not gone anywhere,” Imam Fatty remarked.

Faal countered Imam Fatty by retorting: “No, you are mistaken. Not all of us were here. But it is the same. But what you said is right; we should have spoken out against it. And we failed in speaking out against it. And we are really sorry and because of our failure we had a dictatorship. But worst still, you implemented it. You also failed in your responsibility to ensure that you acted according to law. So, the failure is on both sides. Our side for keeping silent about it and your side for blindly following it. I have admitted our own failure for keeping silent. Do you admit your failure for blindly implementing it?”

In response, Imam Fatty said: “I admit that we were all quiet.”

Faal wouldn’t accept Fatty’s response. He insists that the Imam should answer his question.

“We are not talking about the public’s silence. We are talking about your actions,” Faal said.

Imam Fatty maintained that the Supreme Islamic Council hasn’t violated any law. He said the Council had acted correctly and all the decisions the Council had taken were done in good faith.

Imam Fatty was responsible for the licensing of Muslim preachers. He said interested preachers were required to submit their school certificates before being interviewed. Once, Fatty is satisfied with the applicant’s application, he would approve the applicant’s application.

Essa Faal argues that the Council’s move amounts to the violation of the Muslim’s right to worship and preach. But Imam Fatty disagrees.

Written By Pa Nderry M’Bai

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