23 January 2013

Gambia: Views of Imams On the Disappearance of Imam Baba Leigh

Still seeking the opinion of diverse members of the general public on the arrest and subsequent disappearance of Imam Baba Leigh of the Kanifing East Estate Mosque since on the 3 December 2012, Foroyaa is now asking the views of Muslim religious leaders regarding the fate of their colleague Imam Bab Leigh.

The paper managed to get the opinions of three Imams of mosques in Brikama, Lamin and Bakoteh who are willing to talk.

Talking to the Imam of a Mosque in Bakoteh, he opposed both the arrest and long detention of Imam Leigh and called for his immediate release to rejoin his family and congregation. He expressed his disbelief to see a country which always calls itself a place of religious tolerance could contend with the reality of an Imam being arrested and disappearing without any known effort being made by the authorities to trace his whereabouts.

He said religious leaders have a greater burden to tell the truth and of which they have to be judged before Allah. "If a religious leader fails to tell truth, he will answer for it when he dies", he said.

He said he cannot understand why state officials always say that security is an issue they will never compromise with when people disappear. "Are these people not part of the citizens who should be provided with security?" he asked.

He added that it is the responsibility of the state to help locate Imam Leigh and reunite him with his people.

"I have not seen any reason why Imam Leigh should be arrested and detained. If he is known to have committed any crime, he should be brought before the law as he is not above the law like everybody else. But they should tell the public what he has done and then take him to court rather than keeping him away from his family for more than one month now", said the Imam from Bakoteh.

"Yesterday it was somebody. Today it is Baba Leigh. We don't know who it will be tomorrow. We have a duty to speak out against the harassment and mistreatment of religious leaders", he said.

The Imam of a Mosque in Lamin, harped on the heavy responsibilities placed on the shoulders of an Imam to tell the truth to your congregation. He said this is why in the old days people were very hesitant to accept the position of an Imam because of the concomitant responsibility that can take you to hell if you fail to do exactly what Allah asks you to do as the leader of the faithful.

He said he wants to inform the president that all the religious leaders in the country recognised his efforts in the area of building mosques and taking people to perform the pilgrimage in Mecca. He said all these efforts can be made complete if he intervenes and ensures that Imam Baba is released from his captors and returned to his family and mosque. He therefore appeals for his intervention to dry the tears of his young family and address the concerns and wishes of the entire Muslim Ummah who are praying day and night for the Imam's release in a good state of health.

At Brikama, an Imam also added his voice to the call for the immediate release of Imam Leigh. He said the people should demand the Imams to take the lead in calling on the authorities to help in facilitating the release of the Imam.

"I will not say much, but all I know is that Allah is not quick in taking action, but he never leaves things to continue going wrong like that", he said.

He cited the arrest of Imams before such as Alhagie Karamo Touray, the Imam of the Brikama Central Mosque, Imam Alhagie Ismaila Manjang of Gunjur, Imam Alhayba Hydara former Imam of the Airport, Imam Ba Kawsu Fofana who were not charged for any crimes they have committed but later released.

He called on the Imams to dedicate one Friday 'Al Jumah' to pray for the release of Imam Baba Leigh to enable him to reunite with his family and congregation.

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