Gambia(JollofNews) – Muslim clerics in the Gambia have paid a courtesy call on President Yahya Jammeh to endorse his declaration of the country as an Islamic state.

The West African nation, which has a Muslim population of over 90 per cent, was declared an Islamic state in December by Mr Jammeh.
Mr Jammeh, 50, a former military officer who cultivates the image of a practising Muslim, and is often seen holding a Qur’an and prayer beads, said the decision to declare the Gambia an Islamic State and Republic was based on the fact that a ‘majority of Gambians are Muslims and the need to uphold the country’s Islamic identity and faith in an environment of true Islam where the rights of all citizens would be safeguarded and respected.

His critics said the declaration was intended to deflect attention from the poor state of the economy, including the rise in the price of basic commoditiesMuslim elders.
But the clerics who are also members of the country’s Islamic council described Mr Jammeh’s decision as a step in the right direction that would strengthen the fundamentals teachings of the Islamic faith in the Gambia.
“We came here today to show our appreciation to President Jammeh for his decision to make the Gambia an Islamic republic,” said Alhaji Muhammad Lamin Touray, president of the Supreme Islamic Council of the Gambia.  
“President Jammeh’s proclamation of the Gambia as an Islamic republic is bigger and heavier than the mountain and it takes only a strong, brave, faithful and true Muslim to make such a decision.
“The Islamic council, Muslim elders of Banjul  and the entire Gambia Muslim community regards the president’s decision as Allah’s additional bounty to the country and the people and we will continue to pray for Allah’s increased protection and blessings on the country.
Touray, who is also the head imam of President Jammeh’s State House mosque added: “President Jammeh has made numerous strides in support of Islam. It was Allah who gave him to us and we are thankful to Allah for that. The dividing line between an Islamic republic and a non-Islamic republic is thin. The only differenc is that an Islamic republic’s law will strengthen the other existing laws of the country”
 Addressing the clerics on behalf of President Jammeh, Isatou Njie-Saidy, vice president of the Gambia and minister for Women’s Affairs, appealed to them to remain steadfast and support the president’s proclamation.
She added: “Islam always stands for peace and  teaches people what is right. President Jammeh is  a man who has strong faith in Allah and whose support for the Islamic religion has gained global recognition. I am confident that every genuine Gambian Muslim will support his decision