- The Gambia's Supreme Islamic Council has ordered all programmes geared towards propagating or defending Shia Muslims to stop with immediate effect.
All media proprietors have been warned to desist from encouraging Shia activites in the country.
The council's ordered, which has got the government's blessing, came after controversy over Shia beliefs rocked the country, with President Yahya Jammeh asking SIC to regulate the looming Islamic differences.
After a thorough investigation, the council said it has discovered that Shia beliefs contradict the teachings and beliefs of Prophet Muhammed.
"The council has decided that the proprietors of all the print and electronic media should ensure that all religious programmes aimed at propagating or defending the belief that contradicts the teachings of Prophet Muhammad should be stopped," it said.
Since education is the most effective tool in the dissemination of ideas, thoughts and beliefs, the council has directed the general secretaries of Islamic/Arabic education in The Gambia to take all necessary measures to halt all syllabi that seek to teach Shia beliefs.
The Gambia, a secular state, is a pre-dominantly by Muslim who constitute more than 95% of the population. Majority of Gambian Muslims are Sunnis who follow the doctrines of Saudi Arabia.
For some years, Shia Muslims have been operating in secret until recently when they were accused of corrupting the minds of Gambian Muslims with money. Shia faith is mostly practiced in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey. Its followers believe in the greatness of Ali Ibn Abi Taleb, a cousin to Prophet Muhammed and one of the Caliphs of Islam.
Imam Alh. Abdoulie Fatty of State House mosque has advised Gambian Muslims to be wary of following what he called "the heretic Shia doctrine."
However, Imam Baba Leigh, condemned verbal attacks on Shia Muslims because "Islam preaches unity, which is its source of its strength." He said Gambian Muslims would be wrong to avenge on the Lebanese community on their religious and cultural beliefs, considering the deep rooted history the two had been enjoying for two centuries.
"Therefore, they have never been seen as ‘threats’ to our peace, stability and unity both as a nation and faith. By extension, the presence of Iraqis or Iranians is very insignificant in terms of numbers. Some of those seen as Lebanese could no longer be regarded thus for the simple fact that some of them have had generations old ties with this country," Imam Leigh said.
He exhorted religious leaders to "bring about strong ties of love and unity among people regardless of so-called religious differences."
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