By Kebba Jeffang
The Gambian President, Adama Barrow hits back at critics describing them as ‘detractors and hate mongers’ who he said twisted his statement to look like religious discrimination.
Recently, while addressing a community as part of the ongoing presidential tour, he said his ‘Barrow Youth Movement for National Development’ will construct 60 mosques across the country.
Since then, several critics particularly on social media described the pronouncement as unfair treatment to other religions and it is also inconsistent with the Constitutional provision of secularism.
Speaking in Bwiam, in Foni Kansala, on July 24th, he denied discriminating any against religion. He said his government has always adhered to the practice of religious freedom and equality for all people of faith, including non-believers, as guaranteed by the constitution of the Gambia.
”We have different kinds of faith groups in this country, including atheist and followers of the African Traditional religion. We do not discriminate against any one religion because they are all part of my family, the Gambian family. All religions are equal in this country and I treat everyone equally. Even in my Cabinet, I have Christians that I have so much respect for,” he said.
On Tuesday, he reacted that all religions and faith groups are safe to practice and have been catered for in the development strides of the government.
”We are one people, and that tribes and ethnicities are not important,” he emphasised.
He assured that he will remain committed to strengthening the secular republican status of the country, stating that it is the reason he reversed the declaration of Islamic statehood that was proclaimed over the republic by the former regime within a week after assuming power in 2017.
He said called his critics as ”detractors and hate mongers” that are bent on planting the seeds of religious discord and conflict in the minds of unsuspecting Gambians by twisting his comments about the Barrow Youths for National Development.
He clarified that the recent funds acquired from Brussels conference will not be used by any non-government organization to promoting any one religion.
He said the speculators and hate peddlers have deliberately picked on the mosques construction issue to bring misunderstanding in the public. Barrow expressed that he is shocked to learn in the media that he was engaged in promoting one religion against others or threatening Christian minorities.
He described Barrow Youth Movement for National Development as a youth group that meaningfully wants to support his government’s development agenda. He said he would embrace any other organization or individual that is serious about supporting progress and development of the country.
“I am open to anyone who wants to join me in national development. It’s in that spirit that we provided vehicles for all National Assembly Members, including the opposition, to honor and dignify the national office that they occupy. The vehicles would facilitate their movement and they don’t have to join passenger vehicles to get to work’’ he concluded.