President Yahya Jammeh controverted that he was marginalizing Christians in The Gambia after he declared the country an Islamic Republic whiles addressing a group of religious leaders at the State House.
Jammeh in late 2015 said he appointed no one as a religious police and guaranteed that Christians are free to practice their religion. But in June, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Jammeh gave orders banning drumming. The police went into churches and stopped them from worshipping.
Christians in The Gambia usually use drumming to accompany their praise singing. They were restricted from having their social ceremonies.
“You cannot force anyone to become Muslim. I cannot force anyone. It is even in the Quran that you take your religion and I take mine,” President Yahya Jammeh.
During Thursday’s meeting with religious leaders including some from the Christian community, Jammeh insisted Christians were not marginalized and are free to practice their religion.
The systematic marginalization of Christians and even smaller sect of Islamic groups. It has dwindled Jammeh’s popularity who was Islamizing The Gambia in hopes that he would get outside economic support from the Arab world and increase his chances of winning more votes from the majority Muslim populace.
Jammeh, however, forgot that the Muslim population in The Gambia is very moderate.
Jammeh is largely supported by Saudi-trained clerics who attempted to connive with the government to shut down a Christian cemetery. It angered many ahead of the polls who felt that the marginalization of Christians and the naming of the country as an Islamic Republic can cause sectarian violence.
Christians, who make up about 8% of The Gambia’s population overwhelmingly voted for a political newcomer Adama Barrow. President-elect Barrow pledged to reverse Jammeh’s controversial decisions and top among those in annulling his declaration of The Gambia as an Islamic Republic.