Gambia reverses directive ordering women to cover head at work

Sheriff Bojang

The Gambia government has rescinded a controversial directive which ordered women to cover their hair at work and insisted the directive has no relations to the President’s Islamic State declaration.

The government’s directive came barely a month after President Jammeh declared the country as an Islamic State.

“The public is hereby informed that the directive for women to put on hair dress not hijab in all public offices during working hours is lifted. The directive has nothing to do with religion. Women are… President Jammeh’s best friends,” the state TV announced in its Wednesday night newscast.

“They are his sisters and he is here for their wellbeing and happiness at all times. That being the case, the decision will make them unhappy and has thus been accordingly lifted.”

Over 90 per cent of Gambians are Muslim and while many Muslim scholars believe that Islam requires Muslim women to cover their hair in public, the requirement is not strictly adhered to in The Gambia.

When President Jammeh declared The Gambia an Islamic republic, he said the move was in line with the country’s “religious identity and values”.

However, critics said the declaration was intended to deflect attention from the ‘poor state of the economy’, including the ‘rise in the price of basic commodities’.

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