EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: The Peoples’ Progressive Party –PPP- leader and former agriculture minister, Omar Amadou Jallow –OJ- have suggested to the Constitutional Review Commission –CRC- to include in the draft constitution that no Mosque or Church should be constructed at all the government-owned public places.
Addressing the Commission at its West Field engagement on Monday, as part of its second phase public consultation on the draft constitution, Mr Jallow supported for the inclusion of ‘Secular’ in the new constitution, saying Secular State mean equality where everyone can practice their personal religious belief.
Secularism became a hard-hitting debate in The Gambia following its non-inclusion in the draft constitution when it was first released in November. Earlier this month, Gambia Christian organisations governing body –Gambia Christian Council- released a 20-point position paper that it observed as omission of secular and related matters in the country’s draft constitution.
“Gambia is a sample in Africa where one cannot distinguish between a Muslim and a Christian. Let us be equal and respect each other’s’ religion,” Mr Jallow said.
He said there is 3 to 4 Mosques in Latrikunda alone and part of the school there was cut to construct a Mosque when both Muslims and Christians met there to learn. “It is now ugly how Africans see citizenship. My daughter and her husband went to the US and she has a child there, just inn one month she has a passport there. Let us go back and revisit ourselves,” he said.
This month, Mr Jallow’s PP Party National Assembly for Banjul South was quoted by the Standard Newspaper as suggesting for a complete removal of mosques from public places, arguing that while there is nothing wrong with allocating an area for people to say their prayers, constructing mosques at public departments or places, in a secular country, is injudicious.
Her statement appeared to have gone against the teachings of the PPP to many people but Mr Jallow’s Tuesday statement appeared to approve otherwise.
Mr Jallow told the West Field meeting that all his siblings were educated in a Christian school but that does not affect their Islamic religious affiliation, saying whatever can bring disability in the country should be avoided, especially religious and tribe.
He said he was part of a delegation that went with former president Sir Dawda Jawara to Saudi Arabia to lobby for them to sponsor a Mosque in Banjul, but Sir Dawda did not build it in State house. “Instead, he built it in Banjul and every Friday he will go there and pray with the people.”
Chairman of the CRC, Justice Cherno Sulayman Jallow reminded people that nation building cannot be done through anger, and writing a constitution is not any easy task.
He assured the gathering that they will put their comments and suggestions into consideration and include those that are fit to be in the constitution