Gambia: Information Minister rebuts false reports on Gambia

Banjul, Gambia (PANA) - Gambia’s Minister of Information, Sheriff Bojang, has condemned foreign media outfits “that have been filling their newspaper columns and airtime with gross distortions and the most outrageous lies against the country” since  President Yahya  Jammeh declared an Islamic state on 10 December 2015.

In a statement made available to PANA Wednesday, the minister said: “All they have been doing is engaging in scaremongering and treating this matter as if it is a hand grenade with the pin out."

According to Mr. Bojang, everybody is entitled to his own opinion but not to his own fact.

When the President made the declaration in Brufut, he was very clear.  He stated that Gambia as an Islamic state will respect the rights of all citizens and residents and that Christians and others can practise their religion and he emphasised the maintenance of tolerance and mutual respect.

"The President said the new changes will not lead to a shift in his or the country’s relationship with anybody or any other country. He said The Gambia will be a model for the rest of the world and will project a good image of Islam. This is his vision. And nothing has changed from that since.”

Asked whether the 31 December 2015 directive issued by the Office of the President requiring female civil servants to cover their hair during official working hours was not at odds with the president’s statement, Bojang replied: “Absolutely not. In fact, that directive has more to do with His Excellency’s social re-engineering crusade, than religion.

"The President believes it is imperative for the African woman - the mothers and moulders of our children, the future of our continent – to be proud, conscious and reassert their dignity. That is why earlier on, he banned skin bleaching in the civil service.

"The covering of hair by female staff is an attempt to discourage the use of false hair commonly known as mèche.  He believes the use of such things is an affront to the dignity of the African woman and constitutes gross waste of resources. Some of these false hair packets cost in excess of Dalasis 50,000 (US$1 = D 35.00) and they are mostly unhygienic and messy.

“But instead of finding out the truth, some of these reporters and editors jump to conclusions making noise everywhere that Christians are being defamed, persecuted and crucified,” as one Senegalese paper put it, Bojang added.

He explained that President Jammeh has Christians in his family, went to a Christian school and even lived in a Christian home. He is well-versed in the Bible and its history and believes both true Christians and Muslims worship the same God and except for some doctrinal differences like the nature of Christ and the concept of the Trinity, are the same.

According to the minister,  96% of Gambians numbering 1,782,859 are Muslims with 3.7% amounting to 69,638 as Christians. "Both the Muslim Qur’an and the Christian Bible call for women to dress modestly and specifically to cover their hair," he said, emphasising that the President believes in the Qur’anic injunction that, "There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion”.
-0- PANA MSS/AR 13Jan2016

13 january 2016 19:39:36

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