HELLO MR PRESIDENT… Protecting Minority Rights…

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From the outset, let me make it very clear that I am not writing as a representative of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (although I am a proud Ahmadi, by Allah’s special Grace). I am writing as a citizen of this great nation, the Gambia; I am writing as an activist as I have done since the coming into office of your government, I am writing as the Chairman of People Democracy Movement, a registered Civil Society Organization dedicated to work for the furtherance of democracy and good governance.

I write to ask some very simple questions: Are Ahmadi Muslims less Gambian than you, or any other son or daughter of this nation? Do Ahmadis not have rights which should be protected by government? Do Ahmadis not fulfill their duties as citizens? If the answers to the questions above is yes, then your government needs to speak out immediately against the hate speeches circulating against them.

Over the past few weeks, Ahmadis have come under the harshest verbal attacks by some religious scholars. This is caused by the fact that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at have applied for a license to establish a television station in the country. These scholars see that as a threat to the ‘Religious Purity’ of the nation and as such have started a vicious campaign to prevent the government issuing this license. Some have gone to the extent of making threats of violence against Ahmadis and destroying their properties.

I am not writing to weigh in on the debate of whether to grant the license or not; be that as it may, it is left to your government to see the merits or demerits of granting or refusing that; I am writing to raise concern over your government’s silence on these threats that are being made. Why does your government still remain quiet when some individuals are threatening physical violence against a section of society, no matter how small that section is. Let me say this, the number of Ahmadis in the country is not as small as most people seem to think. We have quite a good number of Ahmadis in this country. So, those who think we do not matter, might be advised to think again.

The first duty of a government is to protect its citizens (all citizens, the supporters, the opponents, the ones you agree with and the ones who hold different views on things in the country). So, it is your sworn duty to protect everyone – this certainly includes Ahmadi Muslims. Your silence only lends credence to the hate being directed at the Ahmadis right now. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a law-abiding community, that is not disputable. The Ahmadis participate in the development of this country as good citizens should do.

My contention here is this: even if Ahmadis were ‘Kafirs’ (may God forbid) as many would like to put it, will that make them less human? Will that mean that they have no rights and can be bullied, killed, insulted and persecuted because of their faith? Our Constitution stipulates that this is a secular country and that every individual has a right to belong to any association and group – religion included. So why would we allow a few people to take the country ransom by constantly preaching hate against a portion of society?

In fact, the truth is that, it is not the right of any individual or group to decide who is a Muslim and who is not. That right belongs to Allah alone. We live in a world where the fight is – or should be – with ideas and opinions, the age of knowledge. If anyone thinks that the Ahmadis will spread the wrong message which will pollute the minds of citizens, such a person also has a right to establish a television and counter the message of the Ahmadis. In this way, we will be letting the people decide on their own. After all, religion is a personal matter between man and his Maker.

Mr President, fulfill your constitutional responsibility and investigate the hate speeches and the calls to violence against Ahmadis. Do not wait until some people are killed or injured before you act. We have many countries to learn from; Nigeria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and many others are severely retarded due to religious strife. Prevention, it is said, is better than cure. As an Ahmadi Muslim, I would like to end by quoting our motto here: Love for All, Hatred for None!

Have a Good Day Mr President…

Tha Scribbler Bah

A Concerned Citizen

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