The Supreme Islamic Council of the Gambia has asked for the Constitutional Review Commission to omit secularity from the country’s draft constitution.
At a press conference on Tuesday, the Council “demands that Secularism/Secularity/ Secular or words or phrases with similar meaning be never inserted in the constitution”. The Council’s position was read by its secretary general Ebrima Jarju.
A section of the Gambian Muslims and Christians hold opposing positions on the inclusion of secularity in the draft constitution.
Barely a week ago, the Gambia Christian Council submitted a position paper to the CRC, calling for Gambia to be declared a secular state.
“The GSIC strongly reaffirms its position that the Gambia had and has never been and should never be a Secular State. It should remain a Non-Secular State,” said the SIC on Tuesday.
“This is what we inherited from the founding fathers of the nation and this is what is deeply rooted in our social norms and values. Our Non-Secular Status has provided us all the peaceful co-existence, freedom of conscience, liberty to embrace any conviction and the right to enjoy any religious, political, denominational affiliation without being subjected to any restraint or persecution.”
The Council also demand that Shari’ah law and Shari’ah courts be maintained but with the creation of Shari’ah Divisions in both the Appeal Court and the Supreme Court.
Their submission is for the position to be occupied only by those qualified in Sharia to entertain appeals from the Shari’ah High Court.
The SIC also demands that “marriage be clearly defined to reflect our religious and cultural values”.
“We demand that the word ADOPTION captured in section 186(1) be added to section 9(e) and be given an Islamic interpretation,” added the SIC.
“We demand that the Legal Practitioners be qualified in Shari’ah before he/she can appear in sharia courts.”