(JollofNews) – President Adama Barrow has fired back at his critics, majority of who were saying they were defending Gambia’s religious secularity and criticize his announcement of constructing sixty Mosques in Gambian communities in one year.
“All religions are equal in this country and I treat everyone equally. Even in my Cabinet, I have Christians that I have so much respect for,” Mr. Barrow said in Foni Kansala village of Bwiam on Tuesday as part of his on-going nationwide tour.
In one of his meetings last Wednesday, Mr. Barrow announced a youth movement named after him called Barrow Youth Movement for Development has secured funding to construct five Mosques every month and that will be 60 Mosques in a year which spurred a wave of criticism in the country with many people calling it a misplaced priority.
He also announced that from the same project, five boreholes will be provide in Gambian communities every month which will also total to 60 boreholes in a year to help people access to clean and safe drinking water and support four gardens every month which will also total to 48 gardens in a year.
”We have different kinds of faith groups in this country, including atheist and followers of the African Traditional religion. We do not discriminate against any one religion because they are all part of my family; the Gambian family,” Mr. Barrow said.
Mr. Barrow is currently on a ten-day nationwide tour of the country to dialogue with the public on a variety of pertinent issues in the country in fulfillment of Section 222 (15) of the 1997 Gambia Constitution.
He said from the onset, the government has always adhered to the practice of religious freedom and equality for all people of faith, including non-believers, as guaranteed by the constitution of the Gambia.
Mr. Barrow promised that all religions and faith groups are safe to practice and have been catered for in the development strides of the government, emphasising that, ”we are one people and tribes and ethnicities are not important.”
He said funds from the Brussels conference will not be used by any non-government organization to promote any one religion, saying the speculators and hate peddlers deliberately picked on the mosques construction issue to bring misunderstanding in the public. “I was shocked to learn in the media that I was engaged in promoting one religion against others or threatening Christian minorities.”
He said he would remain committed to strengthening the secular republican status of the country, pointing out that was why within one week of assuming power, he reversed the declaration of Islamic statehood that was proclaimed over the republic by the former regime.
Addressing the issue of the Barrow Youth Movement for National Development, he described them as a youth group that meaningfully wants to support his government’s development agenda. He was quite unequivocal in stating that he would embrace any other organization or individual that is serious about supporting progress and development of the country.
During the former President Yahya Jammeh’s regime, there used to be a youth group that called themselves “Green Youth” comprising young people from all the regions and municipalities of the country who believed in Mr. Jammeh’s principles and called themselves his sons.
Majority of The Gambian population despised the youth movement who will be following Mr. Jammeh in their thousands during nationwide tours and enjoyed millions of dalasi gifts from him. These youth are logged in regional youth centers where many young girls ended up getting pregnant and led to many young boys and girls ending their educational career to enjoy the fun.
“I am open to anyone who wants to join me in national development. It’s in that spirit that we provided vehicles for all National Assembly Members, including the opposition, to honor and dignify the national office that they occupy. The vehicles would facilitate their movement and they don’t have to join passenger vehicles to get to work.’’