By Nelson Manneh
Gambia’s Supreme Islamic Council (SIC) has sent a delegation to engage the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC), on their contribution on the non-inclusion of ‘Secularism’ in the new draft Constitution.
This delegation which comprised Muslim Clerics such as Ebrihim Assan Cham, met with CRC Officials in Bwiam in the Foni Kansala District on Thursday December 12th 2019, during their meeting. The delegation who said they were sent by the SIC, wanted to make sure that ‘Secularism’ is not captured in the new Constitution.
“We heard that Christians are campaignng for the CRC to capture the word ‘Secular’ in the preamble of the new Constitution which is against Islam,” they said.
In the Central River Region of The Gambia, delegates from the Supreme Islamic Council joined the meetings to discourage the inclusion of ‘Secularism’ in the new draft Constitution.
Ebrahim Hassan Cham a native of Sinchu Alagie who was part of the SIC delegation said they were sent by the Council to engage the the SIC regarding ‘Secularism’.
Chalm said they learnt that Christians were advocating for the inclusión of the word ‘Secular’ in the Preamble of the new Constitution which according to him, will affect Islam. Cham said they even had a Member of the National Assembly saying Mosques in public places should be demolished and Sharia Courts should not operate in the country.
“All the religions in this country cannot be treated equally because Muslims form the majority. We are 97% of the population of the country and we cannot be compared to believers of other faiths,” he said.
Cham said Muslims in the country have the right to advocate for the non inclusión of secularism and their voices need to be heard.
“If secularism is captured in the new Constitution, we will write a petition to the CRC and if they do not consider the petition, we will campaign for Muslims not to vote during the referendum,” he said; that even in the 1997 Constitution ‘Secularism’ was not captured; that Christians who are advocating for the inclusion of ‘Secularism’ will not know their fate with the incusion of ‘Secularism’ in the Constitution.
Imam Alhaiba Hydara of Yundum on his part said their mission was to enlighten Muslims about the new new Constitution and to tell them not to accept some of the provisions in the new draft Constitution.
“What other believers advocate for is not in line with the practice of Islam. Muslims are the majority in the country and that should be put in to consideration,” he said.
Hydera said they will continue to follow the CRC in all the rest of their meetings to make sure that ‘Secularism’ is not captured in the new draft Constitution.
The issue of ‘Secularism’ has been fundamental and the CRC is confronted with the issue during the second phase of their public consultations regarding the new draft Constitution.