Thursday, 24 January 2013 14:23(JollofNews) – Religious leaders in The Gambia have called for the immediate and unconditional release of Imam Baba Leigh.
Imam Leigh of Kanifing East Mosque was arrested on 3 December 2012 by NIA officers and is being denied access to a lawyer or family members. And despite condemnation from rights organisations including the US State Department, the Government of the Gambia is yet to comment on the cleric’s arrest or charge him with any criminal offence.
It is believed that the outspoken cleric was arrested for his criticisms of the President and his Government over a number of issues including the killing of nine death row inmates by a firing squad in the summer.
Speaking to the opposition owned Foroyaa Newspaper on the condition of anonymity due to fear of persecution by the state, an imam of a mosque in Bakoteh, criticised the continuous arrest and detention of the cleric.
The imam said “Religious leaders have a greater burden to tell the truth and of which they have to be judged before Allah. If a religious leader fails to tell truth, he will answer for it when he dies.”
He added: "I have not seen any reason why Imam Leigh should be arrested and detained. If he is known to have committed any crime, he should be brought before the law as he is not above the law like everybody else. But they should tell the public what he has done and then take him to court rather than keeping him away from his family for more than one month now. Yesterday it was somebody. Today it is Baba Leigh. We don't know who it will be tomorrow. We have a duty to speak out against the harassment and mistreatment of religious leaders."
Another imam of a local mosque in Lamin village also criticised Imam Leigh arrest adding that religious leaders have a responsibility to preach nothing but the truth to their congregation.
“This is the reason why in the olden days people were very hesitant to accept the position of imam because of the concomitant responsibility that can take you to hell if you fail to do exactly what Allah asks you to do as the leader of the faithful,” he said.
Another imam in of a mosque in Brikama called on Gambians especially religious leaders to speak out against Imam Leigh’s arrest and demand for his immediate release.
The imam expressed concerned at persecution of clerics in the Gambia by the Jammeh regime.
He added: "I will not say much, but all I know is that Allah is not quick in taking action, but he never leaves things to continue going wrong like that. I called on all imams in the country to offer prayers in their Jumah salat for the release of Imam Baba Leigh to enable him to reunite with his family and congregation.”
Written by PK Jarju
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