Members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat have expressed concern over hate speech being perpetrated against the sect by mainstream Muslim leaders particularly Imam Fatty.
The Gambia has been regarded a role model in the world in terms of religious tolerance but recent actions against the Ahmadis has threatened such peace as religious leaders call for a massive boycott of their facilities such as their hospitals and schools.
Recently, the sect has applied for a television license igniting tensions between them and the Supreme Islamic Council (SIC) which calls on authorities to deny them having a television station.
Last week, the secretary general of the Gambia Press Union has received a package of audio recordings of various sermons by different religious leaders such as Imam Fatty and Kebu Cham denouncing the sect.
GPU, a neutral party in this conflict, has also issued a statement a few days ago emphasizing that denying Ahmadis a television license on religious grounds will be inappropriate in a secular state like the Gambia.
Abdoulie Fatty, a former State House mosque Imam who later fell out with the autocratic ruler Yahya Jammeh is not new to making tough condemnations of the Ahmadis.
In a video recording trending online, Imam Fatty has threatened to nominate a political leader against Adama Barrow if he dares pray in the Ahmadiyya mosque.
Fatty claimed the Ahmadis have already got a license for radio. The Imam also attacked the Press Union for their stance on the issuance of a license to Ahmadis.
Imam Fatty claimed a former interior minister under Jammeh has told him that he received directives from the strongman to expel Ahmadis from the country but he refused because such an action was going to be a poor political decision.
“Barrow is praying in various mosques but do you think he is going to pray at Ahmadiyya? If he does he would lose his presidency. We are not interested in politics but if Barrow goes to pray at Ahmadiyaa, we are going to campaign against him. We will form our own party, select a candidate and campaign for the person,” Fatty threatened.
“We are asking Muslims to take their children from their schools… Don’t visit their hospitals. If they know you are a religious leader, and you are not lucky they will kill you. The money you pay in their schools and mosques are the funds that strengthen them…”
Fatty’s actions and that of the Islamic Council has been condemned by several Gambian activists including civil society players.
Madi Jobarteh, the program manager at the association of Gambian NGOs, TANGO, said the actions of the Council are “unconstitutional” and a “direct threat to the peace and stability of Gambia”.
“They are sowing the seeds of division and religious intolerance which is the fertile ground for extremism and violence as we see in northern Nigeria with Boko Haram or in Somalia with Alshabab,” Jobarteh said.
“… The Minister of Justice must give advice to the Minister of Interior and the President so that they must take action against the Supreme Islamic Council. The Justice minister cannot remain silent while the police are failing to protect of Gambians.”
Meanwhile, the Gambia Press Union has urged all journalists and media organizations to desist from using their platforms to disseminate hate speech against any religious or social group.
“It is basic knowledge that the ethics of journalism would not allow one to use his or her platform to spread hate. We urge all journalists in both print and electronic to desist from giving voice to opinions that are bent on destroying the society and the people we vow to serve,” GPU Secretary General Saikou Jammeh said.