The Gambian president, Yahya Jammeh, has Friday declared The Gambia an Islamic state, joining other countries in the world strictly adhering to Islamic law.
President Jammeh made this surprise declaration in Brufut as he wraps up his ongoing constitutionally mandated dialogue-with-the-people tour.
“In line with the country’s religious identity and values, I proclaim Gambia an Islamic state,” he said.
The Gambian leader said the country’s overwhelming Muslim majority gives it a perfect opportunity to further break away from colonial domination.
“As Muslims are the majority in the country, Gambia cannot afford to continue colonial legacy
The Gambia has been widely commended for her religious tolerance, especially the peaceful co-existence between the two dominant religions (Islam and Christianity). However, President Jammeh said the sudden change in legal framework wouldn’t affect people of other faiths.
“Gambia’s destiny is in the hands of the Almighty Allah. As from today, Gambia is an Islamic state. We will be an Islamic state that will respect the rights of the citizens.”
The last two years have been a package of surprised announcements from the Gambian president. After stunning the world by severing ties with his long-term diplomatic friends, Taiwan, and pulling his country out of the Common Wealth, he pardoned over 300 prisoners, banning female genital mutilation and now a shift in legal structure.
As surprising as it sounds, whether the declaration would be effective in a relatively religious-tolerant West African country, is a matter of wait and see.