New Democrat (Monrovia)

27 March 2013

Liberia: Muslims Oppose Christian State

Several Muslims swarmed premises of the Capitol Tuesday to protest against the "restoration of Liberia to a Christian state" as petitioned by some Christians who similarly gathered last week at the Capitol.

"We are here today to petition the lawmakers to denounce the call by some Christians that Liberian should be restored to a Christian state. They are acting like this country is for them; they

(Christians) met us here; we are the indigenes of this state and we are telling our legislators that Liberia must remain a secular state.

"Let everyone be given the chance and opportunity to practice their religion and live in harmony. We don't want this country to be a Christian state, " said Ansu M. Koroma, one of the thousands of Muslim men and women who swarmed premises of the Capitol Monday.

Some Christian representatives from the 15 counties under the banner of the Movement of Christians for the Restoration of Liberia to a Christian State, converged at the Capitol last week with a contrast petition to the legislature seeking for the restoration of Liberia to a 'Christian Nation.'

Both the House and the Senate received the petition.

But Muslims from several parts of the country also flooded the Capitol with placards and musical sets to denounce the move by their Christian counterparts.

The Muslims insisted that the petition by the Christians violates Chapter 3, Article 14 of the Liberian constitution, which stipulates amongst other things, that no religious denomination or sect shall have an exclusive privilege or preference over another.

A portion of their petition presented to the House Chair on Foreign Relations, H. Boima Fahnbulleh by Ambulah Mamey, chairman of the Intellectual Alliance of Liberia, amongst other things, also stated that restoring Liberian to a "Christian state" would be a "devilish attempt to plunge and subjugate Liberia to the reminisce of the evil past."

Varney F. Sesay, another Muslim, said, for long the Muslim community has been "marginalized" in the country, adding: "its now time for us to rise up and speak for our rights."

"We all have equal rights here according to article 14 of our constitution. They have forgotten to know that this country is for all of us. We own this country equally; nobody is better than their friend. We must therefore be allowed to practice our religious beliefs freely.

"We have come to tell the House, to tell our honorable lawmakers, that they shouldn't even make any attempt to declare this country a Christian state. This is a secular state. Everybody has the right to worship the God they want to worship. Nobody should therefore make any mistake in this country to tamper with our constitution," Sesay cautioned.

The Muslims protesters who included both males and females, recited

Islamic expressed

such as Allah Hu Akba (God is Great) as their number swelled

thus

creating a theatre for workers and visitors at the Capitol who became automatic

spectators.

"This is the day that God Almighty Allah has set for us. We want our lawmakers to know that Liberia is a multi-religious state. They must not therefore allow anything beyond that. We don't want anything Like a Christian state in this country," said Ibrahim Fofannah as he repeated Muslim expressions.

The quest to restore Liberia to a Christian state has stirred a debate in many quarters including the Christian community where many conservative Christians believe that such a move is "unnecessary."

At the senate, where the petition for the restoration of Liberia to a Christian state was read in plenary yesterday, Sen. Cletus Wotorson, a devout Catholic called on his colleagues to squash the petition on grounds that "it is unconstitutional."

"When people bring a documents to us that violate our constitution, we should not even discuss them. This document (petition calling for the restoration of Liberia to a Christian state) is in complete violation of article 14 of our constitution.

"So, why are we discussing it? This is a waste of time; we have got other things to do," he said.

The senate however submitted the document to the committee room where many expressed pessimism about its re-appearance before the plenary in subsequent time.

Meanwhile, the ruling Unity Party yesterday also condemned the petition for a Christian state.

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