Op-Ed: Radio Taliban opens in Gambia as Jammeh regime runs out of options

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sidi-sannehThe Gambia Supreme Islamic Council has stepped up its propaganda activities by opening a radio station that, we are told by Government, is going to be for “the propagation and strengthening of Islam, and also to disseminate the values and authentic information about Islam.”

It would have been less worrying had the government statement ended there. But the added phrase telling Gambians that the radio will also “serve as partner in national development” makes clear the ultimate intent. In the Jammeh regime, ‘partner in development’, applied locally, is euphemism for political propaganda. Faced with severe international criticism of its human rights record, and a devastating news about an economy that continues to be ravaged by inflation caused by bad policies, Jammeh has found the topic of “satanic influences” resonating somewhat in some quarters, and which he intends to exploit in an effort to divert the focus of attention away from the economic hardships facing Gambians.

It did not come as a surprise, therefore, that the central theme of his 22nd July message this year was about ‘satanic influences’ which he promised to exorcise from the possessed; a topic delivered with such religious fervor that he almost sounded like one of those Tehran Ayatollahs.

Gambians should expect Jammeh to pivot, and in a substantial way, towards religion because nothing else seem to work in his favor. He will invest in a religious radio station that will function more than a religious station to engage the Council deeper into politics in support of his political agenda. The fact that Teranga Radio, Brikama Community Radio, and before them, Citizen FM, Radio 1 FM, Sud FM, and countless numbers of print media were banned for reasons of reporting actual news and views, will not stop this government from issuing licenses to radio stations that will commit themselves to being pro-government in advancement of his government’s repressive policies.

By venturing into broadcasting, and declaring its partnership with government in development, the Supreme Islamic Council is signalling that it has progressed from being an avid supporter of government policies to becoming a full-fledged propaganda arm of the APRC government of Yaya Jammeh or the equivalence of the Ministry of Political and Religious Affairs. Gambians need all the prayers in the world as they navigate the uncharted waters of religious fanaticism which is the next, and hopefully, the final phase of a dying regime.

Sidi Sanneh

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