Omar Jallow has described as “illegal” and “unacceptable” the decision of the Government to order women in the civil service to cover their hair with a head-tie.
The leader of the opposition People’s Progressive Party and a former agriculture minister in the first republic said the constitution that is the supreme book of the land gives people the right to dress whichever way they like.
“Can a circular be more important than the constitution? The government has no such right because the constitution allows the people to dress whichever way they like,” he told journalists at his Pipeline residence.
“If my daughter is working in the government and such an order is imposed on her, I will challenge it in the Supreme Court.”
The Gambia Government has reportedly issued an executive directive asking all female government workers in the country to wear a head-tie during working hours.
The directive, which took effect since 31 December 2015, according to media reports, revealed that all female staff within Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies are “no longer allowed to expose their hair during official working hours”.
The directive thus added that women are urged to use head-tie and neatly wrap their hair during official working hours.
“All Heads of Departments and Agencies are urgently advised to implement this directive and bring it to the attention of their female staff within their line Departments and Agencies,” it stated, adding that all are seriously advised to adhere to the new directive.
This new directive comes barely a month after the President declared The Gambia an “Islamic State”, a new name that is now being used by all state media outfits.
The President, however, said the protection of the rights of all people regardless of their religious affinity will continue to be protected in the country.
Yesterday, host of Islamic leaders led by Momodou Lamin Touray, president of the Supreme Islamin Council, have voiced their support for the President’s Islamic State declaration.
Through the office of the Vice President, the clerics said the President’s declaration will not affect the culture of religious tolerance in the country.
However, Omar Jallow does not agree with that line of argument. The PPP leader said the Islamic State declaration is “unnecessary” and “serious”
Though the President has made it clear that his declaration has nothing to do with introducing Islamic law in the country or trashing the country secular constitution and political institutions, the PPP leader said without such fundamental changes, the idea of an Islamic state is “unnecessary”.
“I am strongly against The Gambia becoming an Islamic State—The Gambia is a secular state…You cannot have an Islamic State without Shariah. There is a vast difference between a Muslim state and an Islamic state…,” he said.
“You have seen what happened in Sudan when in 1983 the President of Sudan Gaafar Nimeiry… declared Sudan (south and north) an Islamic state under Shari’ah law. John Garang formed an armed rebellion called Sudan People’s Liberation Army against the state that lasted for 30 years.”
Meanwhile, the Islamic leaders who visited the President said the declaration will transform the way Muslims in the country live as in accordance with their faith.