|Imam Bakawsu Fofana|
Gambian outspoken Muslim cleric, Imam Bakawsu Fofana is reportedly arrested on Thursday by officials of the National Intelligence Agency, the NIA, family sources told The Voice newspaper on Sunday.
“Imam Bakawsu Fofana left his home on Thursday 31st May, 2012 to attend a naming ceremony when the NIA came to pick him up and whisked him away along with one of his disciples (Talibe),” the source said. “He is being held at the NIA headquarters in Banjul.”
“We prayed Ashr (5pm) prayer at the NIA and that was when the NIA decided to release me. They asked me to take along Imam Bakawsu’s belongings,” said the disciple who did not want to give his identity.
“The NIA did not tell us the reason behind the arrest and we cannot tell what he is being through. We’ve not have access to him since,” he said.
His arrest and subsequent detention followed a heated nationality jibe with the Imam of State House Mosque, Abdoulie Fatty.
“This is an unforgivable attack on Bakawsu and it has left us surprised and frustrated,” said an “angry Talibe”, who demands the scholar’s unconditional release. “We remain faithfully to Allah and left everything in his hand as he is the supreme command of all judge and the mighty,” said another disciple.
Many of his family members from his native Village of Jarra Sankuya and followers gathered on Sunday at the cleric’s house at Sanchaba in solidarity with the venerable Imam’s family.
The Imam’s preaching style has been greeted by opponents as un-Islamic and last year, he was banned from preaching on radio and his own mosque. His records selling in the market were also banned.
Free expression watchdogs said the move was politically motivated and was a violation of free expression.
Thursday’s arrest is yet to be confirmed by the state security.