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Imam Baba Leigh Reacts to Calls for His Resignation, Branding it an Act of Jealousy

Imam Baba Leigh, NHRC
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Imam Baba Leigh, NHRC

By Arfang M.S. Camara

Imam Baba Leigh, a Commissioner at the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has taken the opportunity during the Commission’s recent press conference to respond to Gambians calling for his resignation after the Commission’s 2019 annual report suggests protection for the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

The NHRC’s 2019 annual report, which recommends the Gambia government’s protection of gay rights, was greeted with stiff condemnation – with some commenting that the belief starkly contradicts Imam Leigh’s religious principles.

“People are jealous, selfish and ignorant, [they make the call only] because Baba Leigh is an Imam and at the same time a commissioner at the National Human Rights Commission”, the Imam fired back.

Imam Leigh said he was upholding his duty by fighting for all those people whose rights were violated.

The Imam himself is all too familiar with rights violation. His was a victim of abuse and was forced into exile during the Jammeh era.

Imam Leigh dismissed his critics’ call for his resignation on the grounds of his religious standing, by comparing his position to that of Muhammad Saudi of Saudi Arabia who he said is equally a commissioner for the National Human Rights Commission in Saudi Arabia, and claimed “as a Muslim, who prays far more than me and who believes in Muhammad (S.A.W) more than me and nobody asked him to resign.”

“You have Muslims all over the world serving as human rights activists but unfortunately, my resignation comments came from somebody for whom I have so much respect, and believed that he is educated and well connected internationally and who knows what is happening all over the world. [Its unfortunate that] that person is now asking for me to resign because I am a Muslim.”

Baba Leigh said that his role in the Commission, as a preacher, is a crucial one as he added, “every organization need someone who would preach, mediate and
reconcile mankind, brothers and families.” Therefore, his selection to the Commission followed a parliamentary scrutiny and was deemed qualified for the job.

Speaking further on the matter, the Imam said he would neither fight nor exchange any words with that person who is calling for his resignation from this important
commission. “This is a commission [through which] I feel I can help my nation and [protect] human lives.”

To that end, the Imam said, for two weeks he has been refusing interviews with journalists because he does not want to batter words with someone who is seeking relevance by attacking household names like himself. He would rather choose maturity.

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