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Gambia’s president, Yahya Jammeh on August 19 threatened to deal with a Muslim religious Sunni sect, locally known as “Mashallah” saying he will “cut-short” their tails or “wipe them out” of the country.
He accuses the sect, widely known for its widespread propagation of Islam and strict following of the deeds (Sunnah) of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), of “embarrassing people’s wives in public and the idea of going round and creating mayhem.”
“Nobody appointed you to be religious police in this country. If you don’t cut your tails short, I will cut them to your waist. Mind your business, do your worship and leave people alone,” Jammeh said during Sunday’s Eid (Muslim feast) meeting with elders of the Muslim communities and religious leaders in Banjul.
“You are not here to look at how people dress, embarrassing people’s wives in public. It is not your business. As from now, I don’t want to see any “Maracas” moving from one place to another. It is not your business,” he added.
The sect’s style of propagation largely includes countrywide traveling (three, 10, and 40 days) to call people (mainly Muslims) to follow the teaching and deeds of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and the Holy Qur’an.
However, Jammeh believe they “cannot teach” Gambians anything that they don’t know in Islam. “So this idea of going around and creating mayhem is unacceptable,” he said.
The tough-talking Gambian leader gave a verbal order to the police and other security forces to put a stop to it, while accusing the sect of “worshipping God and insulting people.” “I am not going to tolerate that sect here,” he added.
“You are free to worship as long as your worship does not entail spreading hatred and disrespect for the society, which is unacceptable. Mind your business and you worship anywhere you want but if you continue with this habit of intimidation, I am going to wipe you out of this country,” he threatened.
Meanwhile, the leadership of the Mashallah (Sunni sect) told this paper on August 24 that they’ve chosen not to comment on the allegations and threats against them from the president.
However, an outspoken Imam of the Kanifing South Mosque, Baba Leigh told The Standard “We should not confuse those propagating the peaceful message of Islam called “Mash Allahs” with those working for Al-Qaeda advocating and perpetrating violence.”
“If I had the chance to advise the president on the issue, I will tell him that these people have been coming to the Gambia for nearly fifteen years and they have not been involved in any single incident of crime or violence,” said Imam Leigh who is also a human rights activist.
He added: “I think the president is being misinformed and ill-advised on this particular issue. He does not get everything right because he is a human being not an angel hence he makes mistakes. He is in a small corner where he knows only what those advising him want him to know.”
Source: The Voice