(JollofNews)- Barely a month after President Yahya Jammeh declared his country an Islamic Republic, the Government of the Gambia has ordered all female civil servants to cover their hair during working hours.
Mr Jammeh, 50, a former military officer who cultivates the image of a practicing Muslim, and is often seen holding a Qur’an and prayer beads, said the decision to declare the Gambia an Islamic State and Republic was based on the fact that a ‘majority of Gambians are Muslims and the need to uphold the country’s Islamic identity and faith in an environment of true Islam where the rights of all citizens would be safeguarded and respected.’
He said if Gambians live by Godly virtues, ‘the Islamic Republic of the Gambia’ would be transformed beyond anyone’s imagination in terms of human development and economic prosperity.
And while the president promised at the time that there would be no restrictions on dress and that other religions would be respected, the country’s Personel Management Office (PMO), has instructed all head of government departments and agencies to ensure that all female staff under their command cover their heads while at work.
The letter dated 4th January 2016 (Ref PMD 153/02/PartIII/(115) and signed by Mr. A. Jafuneh, which was leaked online stated: “This is to inform you that an executive directive has been issued that all female staff within the government ministries, departments and agencies are no longer allowed to expose their hair during official working hours effective December 31, 2015. Female staff is urged to use head tie and neatly wrap their hair.
All heads of departments and agencies are urgently advised to implement this directive and bring it to the attention of their female staff within their line departments and agencies. All are strictly advised to adhere to these new directives.”
The president’s decision to declare the country an Islamic state has been condemned by civil right groups and opposition leaders who have accused him of violating the country’s constitution, disturbing the peace of the country and trying to distract Gambians from the real problems that they face daily such as the skyrocketing prices of basic commodities, collapsing economy, inadequate health service, poor education standard, mass exodus of youths to Europe by the backway, threats to the independence of the judiciary and dismissal of public servants on executive directives.