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Radio ban on Islamic cleric lifted

(MFWA/IFEX) - Bakawsu Fofanah, a popular Islamic cleric, whose weekly sermons were broadcast on the government-controlled, state-owned the Gambia Radio and Television Service (GRTS) until they were banned last fall, will soon be back on the air. President Yahya Jammeh, who is also the Minister of Religious Affairs, lifted the ban on June 7, 2011, according to the privately-owned newspaper "The Daily News".

"His Excellency has approved your request and you are hereby given permission to go ahead [with your Islamic programme]," quoted a report in the August 17, 2011 edition of "The Daily News".

Fofanah has suffered several bans after a disagreement with The Gambia Supreme Islamic Council (SIC) over dates for the celebrations of two main Muslim festivals in the country.

President Jammeh, who has always doubted Fofanah's religiosity had at a point in time snapped "even the shoe I wear is closer to Allah than you are."

Shortly after the radio ban, he was also banned from religious activities in the country for his criticism of the SIC. The SIC, with the blessing of President Jammeh, banned Fofanah from engaging in religious activities. His Islamic school was also banned. On October 13, 2010 the ban on Fofanah was lifted with a stern warning from President Jammeh.

"I am happy about the decision of the Islamic Council and President Jammeh," Fofanah told the newspaper.

It is not clear when Fofanah will resume broadcasting.

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