Gambia’s President-elect Adama Barrow has met with religious leaders from the Muslim and Christian communities at his transition office, including the usual suspects, members of the Supreme Islamic Council.
Barrow first met with the officials of the Christian Council a day before a meeting with religious communities and the country’s embattled President Yahya Jammeh.
Jammeh had pleaded with the religious leaders to preach peace and reconciliation but continued to insist that the polls that ousted him were fraudulent.
Sources say the religious leaders including the Supreme Islamic Council urged him to step down at the meeting. That part was not played by GRTS, the national broadcaster.
The Supreme Islamic Council is a group of clerics that has done most of President Yahya Jammeh’s bidding and used Islam to support Jammeh’s repression, including the killing of nine inmates in a state prison.
The clerics supported Jammeh’s declaration of The Gambia as an Islamic Republic and caused the sectarian division between Muslim and Christians. Members of the council joined some government officials in an attempt to shut down a Christian cemetery at the entrance of the capital and violently advocated against smaller Muslim sects like the Ahmadis.
Before meeting members of the Supreme Islamic Council, President-elect Barrow met with members of The Gambia Islamic Union, who urged for peace and unity among all in the country.
The Gambia’s Supreme Islamic Council aided President Yahya Jammeh in arresting and jailing fellow clerics like Imam Bakawsu Fofana and Imam Baba Leigh. More Imams opposed to Jammeh continue to be held in prison to date and some were prosecuted for simply praying the Eid on a different day other than that which is sanctioned by Jammeh.
The Supreme Islamic Council helped Jammeh justify these actions, including the torture of those they disagree with.
Gambian Christian, who mostly in the country’s Kombo North and South were instrumental in securing Barrow a win. Jammeh’s Islamic Republic declaration marginalized them and infringed on their religious freedom. Police officers entered churches last summer and stopped them from drumming because it was the month of Ramadan. Many could not hold social events.
Jammeh with the support of the Supreme Islamic Council invited controversial televangelist Dr. Zakir Naik, who angered Christians with his comparative religion lectures saying “Muslims are more Christian than Christians.” He claimed to have advised Jammeh to Islamize the The Gambia.
President-elect Barrow has vowed to uphold the secularity of The Gambia and separate religion from the state. Gambians want the religious harmony that exists in the country to be strengthened and many would be watching how the new support the Supreme Islamic Council is giving to Barrow will evolve.