Sigh. Just as the world is striving to correct mistakes of the past and separate God from State, Gambian president Yahya Jammeh has just declared the small African country an Islamic Republic.
With a 90% Muslim population, Mr Jammeh told state TV the declaration was in line with Gambia’s “religious identity and values” and a deliberate break from neo-colonialism.
The president added that no dress code would be imposed and citizens of other faiths would be allowed to practise freely. It makes one wonder then what the difference will be with the new declaration as a Muslim State.
Yahya Jammeh – a very devout Muslim who has ruled the country for the last 21 years – has previously made shocking proclamations. In the past, he has made Friday a mandatory day off, meaning that schools and workplaces could choose whichever day they wished in lieu of the religious day off and still maintain a 40-hour week. This has been criticised as disruptive in the past as different institutions were open on different days.
Next, the president claimed that he could cure AIDS with a herbal mixture that he had concocted, but could not be drawn to specify or release the concoction for testing.
Finally, his relationship has soured with the West in recent times as a result of his human rights decision, executing nine prisoners and vowing to execute the remaining 37 on Death Row within a weeks. Public outcry put a stop to this decision.
Making this most recent announcement about the new Islamic Republic, Mr Jammeh said, “As Muslims are the majority in the country, the Gambia cannot afford to continue the colonial legacy.”
This means the African nation joins Mauritania, Iran and Pakistan as the fourth Islamic Republic.
I just struggle to see how exchanging one God for the other frees one from the fetters of neo-colonialism, but no doubt it will all become clear shortly if Mr Jammeh has his way. Which he will, as 21 years’ rule is no joke, but it ain’t no democracy either.
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