By Mustapha Jallow
The executive members of “Rawdatul Majaalis”, on Tuesday expressed their dissatisfaction with the Lands Minister’s claims at the National Assembly, and urge him to be tolerant and neutral when it comes to religious issues in the country.
Sheikh Abubacarr Jabbie, vice president of the above organisation made these statements at a press conference in Brufut, on 27th December 2022, after Sheriff Abba Sanyang, the Minister for Lands, Local Government and Religious Affairs told members of the National Assembly, that “Rawdatul Majaalis” is not a religious organization but rather an organisation of people, and that the Supreme Islamic Council oversees all the religious bodies in the country. However, the Minister’s remarks did not go down well with the executive members of “Rawdatul Majaalis”, who in turn expressed their disappointment with the Minister’s comments at the National Assembly, over a long issue that this muslim organisation has with the Supreme Islamic Council.
“We believe that the Lands Minister should play a very important role and unite all religious leaders or groups who are not in good-terms. He (minister) could have called us and talked to all of us as the Minister responsible for religious affairs,” Sheikh Abubacarr Jabbie, vice president of the above organisation said. That what was heard from the Minister at the National Assembly that all Islamic associations are under the Gambia Islamic Supreme Council (SIC) except “Rawdatul Majaalis”, has really surprised and worried them.
Jabbie further explained that since President Barrow appointed Mr. Sanyang as Minister responsible for religious affairs, he is supposed to be a referee in addressing issues between the different muslim religious groups that are at loggerheads.
“I think that should be his work as a religious affairs Minister. But he cannot be a player and a referee at the same time,’’ Sheikh Abubacarr Jabbie said.
Jabbie further said that while the Minister was making his remarks to members of the Assembly, he never brought the issue of the Amadiya Jama’at, whom he said are not registered with the SIC.
“Lot of accusations were made against us, as a violent group. But since 2017, people have come to realise that it is our own citizens who are putting problems on us. We have never created any violence in this country and we will never do so because that is not our mission in the country. People should also know that we are Gambians and have rights to freedom of association in line with our Constitution,’’ Sheikh Abubacarr Jabbie said.
According to Jabbie, when the Minister was asked a question at the National Assembly about what he will do when the two Muslim religious groups in the country (Supreme Islamic Council and Rawdatul Majaalis) have issues, he replied that “Rawdatul Majaalis” is not a religious group but rather an association of people.
“I do not know what the other group is then. Is an association or a government formed organization. I do not know,’’ Sheikh Jabbie told reporters. He refuted the Minister’s claims that all the religious bodies are under the Gambia Supreme Islamic Council except the “Rawdatul Majaalis.”
Meanwhile, other leaders of the above group urge the Lands Minister to unite religious groups who are not in good-terms and be independent in his duty when it comes to religious issues, in order to ensure that the two groups are in line with the Constitution, in order to maintain the peace and stability in the country.
The press conference was attended by the top executive of the group, Imams and other members of “Rawdatul Majaalis”.