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Politically motivated ban on preacher's activities lifted

(MFWA/IFEX) - The politically motivated ban imposed on Bakawsu Fofanah, a popular Muslim cleric, by the Supreme Islamic Council (SIC), a coalition of Muslim associations in The Gambia, was lifted on October 13, 2010 with a stern warning issued to him by President Yahya Jammeh.

President Jammeh, during a reconciliation meeting between Fofanah and the leadership of the SIC, warned Fofanah to refrain from his manner of religious propagation, which according to him has been characterised by incitement and agitation to cause confusion among Muslims in The Gambia.

The meeting was facilitated by the Ministry of Interior and the NGO Affairs following a request by Fofanah to President Jammeh to intervene in the impasse between him and the SIC.

"What I want to tell you is that this will be your first and last chance. I will appeal to SIC to revoke the ban, but if it occurs again, that will be an issue between you and me," Jammeh warned Fofanah.

President Jammeh then ordered Fofanah to apologize to the SIC. Fofanah has been an ardent critic of the SIC after he lost his bid to be the President of the Council.

According to President Jammeh, his government has given the SIC a mandate to steer the affairs of Islam in the country and it is the only body with authority to regulate such problems. Jammeh urged Fofanah to respect the decisions of the institution and its leadership.

The SIC, at an emergency meeting on September 16, resolved that Fofanah should be banned from engaging in any religious activity in the country. According to Fofanah, the ban resulted in a mass boycott from his school as well as his mosque.

The meeting presided over by President Jammeh brought together leaders of the Supreme Council and Cabinet members of the administration.

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