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Christian Council with President Adama Barrow at State House in Banjul

Gambia: Christians Decry lack of Protection in the Draft Constitution

June 1, 2020

By Bakary Ceesay

Christian Council with President Adama Barrow at State House in Banjul
Christian Council with President Adama Barrow at State House in Banjul

The Gambia Christian Council has lamented that that the Draft Constitution does not fully protect the rights of Christians in the country.

It further decried that this generational legacy of religious tolerance and mutual coexistence however, is now under a real threat ironically because of the 2020 Draft Constitution.

“Instead of marking a return to order and the rule of law, the adopted text of the Constitution has plunged The Gambia into even greater chaos as regards religious tolerance. It is having the effect of polarising rather unifying us as a nation”

In a statement signed by the Executive Committee of the Council below the full statement read….

The 2020 Draft Constitution presented by the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) for approval by the Executive and National Assembly of The Gambia in our considered opinion still falls short of protecting Christian religious rights.

Apart from the text of the draft itself which allows for more than a single interoperation on this issue the primary concern of the Christian Community is driven by the reality of its experiences during the Jammeh era. The Christian community wishes to ensure that its rights as a minority religion are protected in the said Constitution.

For more than 20 years, we have watched helplessly as the government openly encouraged and permitted the construction of mosques in government institutions, at the expense of other religions, including Christianity and in a country which the government was not permitted to prefer any one religion over another.

Arabic inscriptions were placed over government offices and the dress code of female students in schools was altered to require schoolgirls and women functionaries to wear the Hijab in public as their peers are obliged to do in Arab Islamic countries.

The overwhelming feedback from a large section of the population is that they want a Gambia where both Christians and Muslims continue to coexist in peace and good neighbourliness as they have for generations.

This generational legacy of religious tolerance and mutual coexistence however, is now under a real threat ironically because of the 2020 Draft Constitution. Instead of marking a return to order and the rule of law, the adopted text of the Constitution has plunged The Gambia into even greater chaos as regards religious tolerance. It is having the effect of polarising rather unifying us as a nation.

The new Constitution has for the first time since The Gambia became an independent country created a parallel legal system to the common law system, this is the Shari’ah legal system.

The Constitution makes it mandatory for the majority of the Gambian people to be subject to Shari’ah law in matters of marriage, burial, inheritance, adoption, endowments, all the key areas of human life.


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