Gambian President Yahya Jammeh Declares The Country An Islamic State To Discontinue The Colonial Legacy- Yet Islam Is Not An Outside Legacy?

Yahya Jammeh

Yahya Jammeh

You would think the exploits of ISIS and Saudi Arabia would put some people off the concept of an Islamic State- but not good old Yahya Jammeh.

Yahya Jammeh has ruled Gambia since 1994, when he took over in a coup d’état. He is a staunch Muslim, brooks no dissent, and has made quite the name for himself as being intolerant of minorities such as homos*xuals.

He once said he’ll behead them if caught, and has likened them to filthy animals in the past.

This decade’s old dictator, whose human rights record is, if one is being charitable, atrocious; has announced that his country is now an Islamic State. His entire rationale being that majority of the country is Muslim (95%), and that they need to break from their colonial past.

“In line with the country’s religious identity and values, I proclaim Gambia as an Islamic state,” the Gambian leader said.

“Gambia cannot afford to continue the colonial legacy. We will be an Islamic state that would respect the rights of all citizens and non-citizens.”

Of course, being a majority does not mean the rights of the minority should be discarded, Down that road lies persecution, as most religious authorities across history has shown us with their treatment of atheists, blasphemers, people of other religious faiths, and even oftentimes other minorities within their own faiths- when given access to unfettered power. Getting rid of such draconian abuses is the entire point of secularism.

When religion reigns free- Artist's impression of a burning at the stake

When religion runs amok- Artist’s impression of a burning at the stake


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Jammeh tries to allay those fears with that last sentence about respecting the rights of everyone, but his record over the past twenty years or so, in regards to his treatment of not just minorities but his political opponents, speak volumes about what we can truly expect.

And that talk about disregarding a colonial past is just baloney. Moving towards a Middle Eastern Religion, even if not what colonialists forced on your people, is not something that can be described as being Independent and Africanistic- if you’ll pardon the (made up) word.

This guy is a joke. He probably wants to pass laws prohibiting women from driving or dressing as they want or getting divorced, and he’s trying to frame it under getting rid of a colonial past. Is there nothing originally African he can then move back to? I don’t think anyone can say there was no religion in the Gambia before trade brought Islam along? If he wants to get rid of outside influences, adopting Islam seems quite the roundabout way of doing it.

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Of course, the pronouncement he made might just be illegal. According to the opposition in the country, Gambia is a secular state by law, and a referendum would be needed to carry out such a change.

“There is a constitutional clause that says that Gambia is a secular state,” Hamat Bah, of the opposition National Reconciliation Party said, speaking on the President’s pronouncement.

“You cannot make such a declaration without going through a referendum.”

His mistake, methinks, is thinking that Jammeh gives two sh*ts about what the constitution says about anything. He recently made a pronouncement outlawing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Whilst admirable, the pronouncement amounted to nothing more than Presidential Fiat, as there was no legislation to back it up.

Jammeh is a man who wears the cloak of democracy, but always resorts to the cult of himself in making pronouncements to rule the land. Note the language in the proclamation, “I proclaim Gambia an Islamic State”. That’s not the language of a leader representative of his people. I suspect a Donald Trump Presidency would look a lot like that.