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Proposal for a license to preach in Gambia

A Gambian minister suggested the re-introduction of a license needed to preach in the country. The leader of the opposition party voiced his concern about this degradation of religious liberty.

Under the dictatorship of Yahyah Jammeh, in order to preach, a government-issued license was needed. Gambia is a predominantly Muslim country, and with this regulation, the dictatorship tried to force Islamic preachers to join the government-controlled Supreme Islamic Council; that was a tool for oppressing the opponents of Jammeh. This regulation also served the purpose of maintaining a firm grip on religious minorities and movements.

Now, the Minister of Lands, Tourism, and Culture, Hamat Ngai Kumba Bah, has suggested the re-introduction of the license. It would mean that only preachers with a government-issued document would be able to preach.

This proposal met with disagreement. Ousainou Darboe, leader of the United Democratic Party and also a prominent figure in the fight against the Jammeh dictatorship, strongly criticized the proposal. He reminded Minister Bah that they fought together against the dictatorship and for freedom and human rights. Because the proposal would damage freedom of religion, he asked the minister to withdraw the proposal and apologize to the citizens of Gambia.

Source: Bitter Winter

Photo: Gambia News

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