The United States ambassador to the country, Patricia Alsup, has stated that The Gambia is a model in religious tolerance and peaceful co-existence among people of different faiths throughout the world. This, she said is demonstrated through intermarriage, sharing of the same culture, enjoying one another’s holidays, and attending religious and social events that represent the wide variety of faiths in this country.
“I hope that Muslims, Christians, and others throughout Africa and beyond will look up to The Gambia as an example of different communities living side-by-side and working for the development of their society,” she said, while speaking at the Basse Central Mosque and ST Joseph Catholic Church, both in the Upper River Region, as part of her countrywide tour to meet Gambians from diverse religious backgrounds.
“I am impressed by the peacefulness of Gambians and their religious tolerance, which I think is critical to maintaining peaceful societies, thus my message throughout this tour is that religious freedom is essential to peace.”
The ambassador further stated that religious liberty is an integral factor of America’s life, and has been since the nation’s founding. This fundamental right, she noted, is the first freedom enshrined in the Bill of Rights. “The Gambia is facing a presidential election in December where that social cohesion will be more important than ever, thus let me take this opportunity to urge all of you to speak up through the ballot box,” she affirmed.
She therefore urged Gambians to continue the inter-faith dialogue, noting that cooperation between leaders of different faith groups should be established and nurtured in all communities where religious diversity exists. “Most importantly, keep building strong community ties; keep sharing one another’s celebrations, rejoicing in one another’s good fortune, and crying with one another in sorrow,” she added.
The chief of Basse, Hammeh Minteh Krubally indicated the significance of the tour. He noted that there has been peaceful co-existence between Muslims and Christians in The Gambia since the time of our forefathers.
He added that the leadership of the country has never hidden its commitment to ensure continued existence of religious tolerance in the country. “The President of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia is committed to that crusade; if President Jammeh gives D10.oo to the Muslims he will equally give D10.00 to the Christian community.”
The Imam Ratib of Basse, Kaw Yerro Cham said history in The Gambia has shown that Muslims and Christians are living in peace and harmony and that will continue. “Muslims and Christians will continue to leave together in The Gambia.
Father Frederick Azame of the ST Joseph Catholic Church joined the various speakers by highlighting the mutual understanding that exists between Muslims and Christians in the region and the country at large. He affirmed that President Jammeh has always advocated for religious tolerance in the country, which he observed has been embraced by all Gambians.
The Chairman of the Church and ex-Gambia national team coach, Mr. Kendo and Bonu Johnson respectively, both spoke at length on the mutual understanding that exists between the Muslims and Christians. “Every Christian community in The Gambia has Muslim relatives and every Muslim community has a Christian family because we are leaving in peace and harmony,” Johnson added.
by Momodou Jawo in Basse, URR