Friday, June 22, 2012

Bakawsu: I will never give up

Gambian Muslim Cleric Bakawsu Fofana
“I will never give up in spreading the words of God and establishing the truth,” Gambian Muslim cleric, Imam Bakawsu Fofana told The Voice on Sunday.

“I am not provoking any one and if any one feels offended by my preaching, it is not my words. It’s from the Holy Qur’an. I am only translating it,” he added. 

Bakawsu Fofana, who some Muslim religious leaders and some government officials take a dim view of his preaching method, was released from “unlawful detention” on June 9,following his unexplained arrest by the National Intelligence Agency (the NIA)on May 31, 2012. 

After nine days in detention, he was granted a bail of D150, 000 of which two Gambia provided surety.

“Even the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) has gone through intimidation by his adversaries in order to stop him from spreading the words of God,” he said. “I am not against anyone, be it the government or Supreme Islamic Council. I am just spreading the words in the Holy Quran.”

He said of the reason of his arrest: “The NIA told me that they arrested me because I provoke people in my sermons, but I told them that I did not agree. I only said what God and his Prophet Muhammad (SAW) mention in the Holy Qur’an.” “I ask them who am I provoking, but they did not give any names, he added.

Detention ordeal

The Director of the NIA, Mr. Numo Kujabi said to me that the President Yahya Jammeh love me and that my safety is guaranteed if I change my style of preaching - by not commenting on issues of government, tribes and people, Bakawsu revealed

He continued…“I told him that am not saying or innovating anything on my own, all what I say are the words of Allah in the Quran and that of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). I have been preaching for the past fifteen years, and I never incite any violence. I always pray and advocate for peace in the country.”

Other Imams do mention peoples’ names while preaching. Imam Abdoulie Fatty mentioned my name in a sermon on 8th May, 2012, likewise “Oustaz” (scholar) Bun Gaye, and Abdou Gitteh also mention peoples’ names in their preaching. “Why were they not called and detained? He asked. 

“Even God has named people, that is why we know about Abu Jahal. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) has also mentioned names of people in Mecca in his sermons,” Bakawsu argues.

Explaining his ordeal, he said “I was put in cell for 24 hours and only goes out when it is time for prayers.
In the first night of my detention, I was put in a dark room where unknown persons beat me up with heavy pipes and sticks.”  

According to him, on his second night in detention on June 1, the same people who beat him up the previous night repeated the act, this time accompanied with filming. “I don’t know the reason for that,” he said, adding that some of them had used hands to slap and punch at him on the face, mouth and head. 

He also said “I was asked why I refer to President Jammeh as Banjul “Mansa” (king), when he is the president of the Gambia, and I replied “Banjul is the capital of the Gambia, that is why I referred him as Banjul Mansa.” 

He said he was taken to different offices at the NIA headquarters for screening while in detention and when I was being released, I was asked to report every day. “I am still reporting at the NIA,” he said.

Hands of God

He alleges that the whole issue behind his arrest and subsequent detention at the NIA is a “plot” by the Gambia Supreme Islamic Council and some religious leaders in the country, who have seen that people loss credibility in them and they are using religious in a political manner.

“I leave the whole issue in the Hands of God and I will remain faithful to him at all time. He is the Supreme Command to judge and do justice,” he said.

“I am advising the government to avoid religious tensions; partisan politics should be separated from Islam, because its damages a nation and its people should not allow people to used them for their selfish interest,” he warned.  “Many countries have cracked-down on Islamic scholars; it later turns worst for them.”

He culminated the interview with the words… “Bakawsu today and Bakawsu tomorrow are all the same. Ever since I finished my education I vowed to spread the words of God without fear or favor.” 

“I will continue to do just that. My preaching has no boundary; it doesn’t matter whether you are poor or rich. I only say that which is in the Holy Qur’an,” he said. 

Source: The Voice

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