Gambia to introduce controversial sharia law

Source:Xinhua Published: 2012-7-20 15:14:28

The Gambian government has decided to include the sharia rules into law "to ensure a fair trial in the country", officials said in Banjul on Thursday, a move that could spark growing controversy among the people.

Njie Saidy, vice president of Gambia, said that the decision would help to promote Gambians' awareness on the Islamic law governing marriage, divorce and inheritance, to reduce conflicts and violence, and to maintain peace, prosperity and national cohesion.

Saidy said Gambian President Yahya Jammeh underscored his government's commitment to the rule of law in the country.

Gambia's 1997 constitution recognizes sharia as the Islamic law of Gambia, which is applicable to marriage, divorce and political affairs for the Gambians, and for the first time creates an enabling environment for the cadi court to the Gambians.

Chief Justice of Gambia Emmanuel Agims called for concerted efforts to ensure efficient judiciary systems in the West African nation.

The introduction of sharia in the region in 2001 triggered a huge debate between politicians and some erudite Islamic scholars in Gambia.

Minister of Local Government and Lands Lamin Waa Juwara, the former leader of the opposition United Democratic Party, appealed to both Muslims and non-Muslims to reject the introduction of sharia, and has launched a campaign against it in Gambia.

He insisted that sharia was not feasible in Gambia, and believed Gambia had more pressing problems to address than to try to "overturn our secular democratic system that has brought us peace and unity," he said.

"I do not see how anybody can say that the introduction of sharia will not affect non-Muslims," he added.

On the contrary, Abdoulie Fatty, imam of the State House Mosque, blamed the non-Muslims for not supporting sharia's introduction because of their ignorance of the meaning of sharia.

"The introduction of sharia in Gambia would not affect non-Muslims as argued by some critics but help make the society free of terrible incidents," said Fatty.

Posted in: Africa

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