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Preacher banned indefinitely from delivering sermons in mosques and lecturing during religious ceremonies

(MFWA/IFEX) - The Supreme Islamic Council (SIC), a coalition of Muslim associations in The Gambia, has written to the authorities to enforce its resolution banning Bakawsu Fofanah, a popular Muslim cleric, from engaging in any religious activity in the country.

At an emergency meeting on September 16, 2010, the SIC resolved that Fofanah should be banned from delivering sermons in mosques in The Gambia and lectures during religious ceremonies.

The SIC also banned the popular Muslim preacher from using written, visual or audio media to address gatherings in the name of Islam and called for all his cassettes currently being sold on the market to be withdrawn.

Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)'s sources reported that the letter was addressed to the Secretary General of the Office of the President, and copied to the Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Information Technology as well as the Inspector General of Police.

The sources said Fofanah, who has been very critical of the leadership of the SIC, was summoned and questioned by the notorious National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and released without charge.

This high-handed decision comes after a meeting of the leadership of the SIC and also follows President Yahya Jammeh's threats to shut down any radio station which broadcasts any information from scholars like Fofanah who hold different religious views, especially on the sighting of the new moon before and after the end of Ramadan.

"Let me say it in English so that the white people can understand properly what I am saying. I said I will close down any radio station that broadcasts any information as far as Islam is concerned which contradicts the statement from the Supreme Islamic Council. I would not tolerate this nonsense again from any of the so-called scholars," said a furious President Jammeh before Muslim worshippers on August 13.

Fofanah is an ardent critic of the pro-Jammeh SIC leadership. He had earlier been banned from preaching on the state-owned Gambia Radio and Television Service (GRTS).

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