A controversial Sunni cleric, who had urged Gambia’s government to expel Ahmadi Muslims from the West African nation is continuing his campaign for the persecution of the minority Muslim group.
Imam Abdoulie Fatty, an influential member of the power Supreme Islamic Council and former head of a mosque in the Gambia’s presidential compound insists Ahmadis are not Muslims and should have their own cemetery.
“The Tallinding cemetery incident is not the first of its kind, and I believe is high time the Supreme Islamic Council wrote a letter to the government to tell them they don’t recognize the Ahmadis as Muslims,” said Fatty.
Tensions flared last week after Sunni Muslim youths in the township of Tallinding, 10 miles southwest of the capital, Banjul denied Ahmadis burial rites for one the sect’s members.
Supreme Islamic Council backed the Sunni community when it demanded that the Ahmadis exhume their dead from the cemetery “even when the body is decomposed,” and threatened to do it themselves in August 2015.
The Third Deputy Amir of the Jama’at, Alhagie Ebrahima Mbowe, said the Ahmadis would not exhume the individual under any circumstances.
Fatty had urged Gambia’s former President Yahya Jammeh to expel the Ahmadis. Jammeh said other forms of Islam causes division supporting the council’s call for Sunni Islam being only recognized sect in the small nation.
Ahmadis in Gambia are most based in the Tallinding area, where they have built a hospital to give healthcare to the people and a high school in a nearby township.
They have reported being attacked, harassed and threatened with beatings and killings.
Gambia’s laws provide every person the right to practice any religion, as long as doing so does not impinge on the rights of others or on the national interest. It prohibits religious discrimination, the establishment of a state religion, and religiously-based political parties.