(JollofNews) – President Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia has told diasporans attending the International Home Coming Festival that his country is not a fundamental society by any means.
Mr Jammeh who is accused of trying to Islamanise the West African nation after he unilaterally changed the country’s name to the Islamic Republic of the Gambia, said although Gambians are religious and conservative, they are also open and friendly, welcoming and do not discriminate against people of other faiths.
He said the name change mainly served to distance the country from its colonial past and to embrace the religious identity of a large majority of its citizens.
“Now those who do not understand what Islam is, what a true Muslim is, come to the Gambia where you see true Islam because Islam espouses love, harmony and togetherness that we are all equal,” Mr Jammeh said.
“In this country nobody is beaten up because you are black or you are white, or because of your religion or your nationality. That is true Islam and that is why we are called the Smiling Coast because Allah says in the Quran that we must love everybody and must welcome everybody as good Muslims and that is why everybody lives in peace in this country. This country is for every human being irrespective of race, creed or religion.”
Mr Jammeh added that the Gambia is an exemplary country when it comes to religious tolerance and freedoms and will not welcome Muslims with extremist ideologies who ferment trouble by preaching hate and intolerance.
“They are not allowed to come to this country,” he said.
“As the Islamic Republic of the Gambia and as true Muslims, we have zero tolerance for racism because the Almighty Allah created us as human beings equal and racism will not be tolerated here.
“This is not a racist country and racism will not be tolerated, where all people live in peace and harmony and love.
I will not judge you by your colour or by your religion. I judge you by your character and this character of racism is unacceptable here.”
The biannual Roots International Festival (formerly Homecoming) commemorates the forced enslavement and shipment of millions of Africans to the Americas and the Caribbean region.
The festival, which has its origins in the publication of Alex Haley’s novel called ‘Roots’ which was followed by the TV series, is aimed at bringing peoples of African descent within the Diaspora to further discover, reaffirm and re-embrace their ancestral identity through confronting a physical past.