Madi Jobarteh

The malicious audio circulating on social media since yesterday May 10 in which an apparently Mandinka woman was releasing poisonous diatribes against the Sarahuleh community clearly and squarely constitute hate speech, incitement to violence and discrimination of a group on account of their ethnicity and threat to national security.

Her unhealthy and hateful outburst is a direct violation of the Constitution as regards freedom of expression, right to culture and protection against discrimination as well as violating several sections of the Criminal Code. For that matter the police must arrest and charge this lady accordingly in maintaining law and order.

Failure to arrest this lady potentially means the police would be allowing hate and violence to flourish in our society hence jeopardizing fundamental rights and freedoms and security of all Gambians. If there is any situation that warrants the police to invite a citizen for questioning, this is the perfect situation. Yet since this audio became public we are yet to see the Gambia Police Force invite the lady or issue a statement to that effect or address hate speech.

If the Gambia Police Force could invite Dr. Ismaila Ceesay or Dr. Amadou Scattered Janneh or Seedy Njie or Mama Kandeh for merely expressing their opinions without hate or arrest Gunjur youths for attempting to protest without violence or deny Occupy Westfield group to protest or attempt to disperse environmentalists at Monkey Park, one wonders how come this lady is allowed to enjoy her freedom in our community without urgent police intervention.

Intolerance of any kind must not be allowed to rear its ugly head in the Gambia. Ethnic, political or religious difference cannot and must not be a basis for our participation in the life of the community. More seriously, differences in tribe, political affiliation or religion cannot be used to discriminate or promote violence against any people. Hence the police must investigate the entire episode in Dippa Kunda to ensure that those who engaged in violence, in words and actions are brought to book.

In the same vein, it is also necessary that political parties and their leaders speak out urgently and strongly against any of their members or sympathizers who perpetuate bigotry. Therefore we expect that the leaders of UDP and Talib Bensouda as well as Papa Njie to come out firmly and clearly to condemn any of their supporters and sympathizers who may have perpetrated such bigotry and hate!

Democracy is about choice which implies citizens having divergent and dissenting opinion. No opinion must be perceived from a sectarian perspective to the point that hateful speech is used against the persons or groups holding that opinion. The Gambia is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society hence to perceive any person, group or opinion from the point of tribe or religion can only breed hate, discrimination and violence. The police and political parties must be seen to therefore stand up against such bigotry with urgency and firmness.

The Gambia does not belong to any single tribe or religion. Regardless of the size of a tribe or religion, no Gambian tribe or religion must feel or entertain the idea that only they own or do not own the Gambia. In terms of the sovereignty of the Gambia there are no majority or minority tribes or religions. All Gambians, regardless of one’s particular tribe and religion, are equal in rights, dignity and sovereignty of the Gambia.

For the Gambia, Our Homeland.