Last Friday December 12th, Gambia’s president Yahya Jammeh declared the West African country an Islamic Republic – joining Afghanistan, Iran, Mauritania and Pakistan as the 5th Islamic Republic in the world.
Jammeh – who came to power in 1994 after a coup d’état – was often accused of disrespecting human rights by Western countries; thus, the declaration that the government will protect other religions didn’t appease the fears of religious minorities– 4% Catholics, 1% animists against the majority of Muslims – who still fear that discrimination and persecution will follow the leader’s decision.
Jammeh insisted on the need to distance from the colonial past of the country – Gambia became independent from Great Britain in 1965 – and to adequate Gambia’s government to the country majority’s religious identity.
Actually, critics said that not only the secular nature of the African country doesn’t allow such a unilateral decision without calling for a popular referendum, but also the intentions of Jammas are not expressly declared. In fact, Gambian leader would wish to get closer to the Arab world by cutting all bridges with those who openly attacked him – Great Britain first in line – for his disastrous human right policy and corruption in the country and to ally with the Islamic world.