Liberia: 'Liberia Treading On a Dangerous Path'

Muslim cleric says as he demands holiday

Liberia's Chief Imam, Ali Krayee, says Liberia is treading on a 'dangerous path' if Muslims are not given the basic social rights that they deserve.

Delivering his Ramadan message to Muslims in Monrovia on Sunday, May 24, Imam Krayee said "Liberia's refusal to grant the Muslim community a national holiday is a recipe for chaos. Our people are growing impatient," he warned.

In his message, he asserted that Muslims will no longer allow themselves to be subjected to receiving bags of rice during the holy month of Ramadan.

Mr. Krayee: "We will no longer accept bags of rice as a means to silence our quest for a right that is legitimate, an Islamic holiday, and other political rights that must be given Muslims in Liberia."

In his early Sunday morning message to his fellow worshippers at the Benson Street Mosque in central Monrovia, he stated that the conversations about giving Muslims in the country an Islamic holiday have been a topical issue over the years. The Imam's latest call is likely to ignite more debates among Liberians.

As everyone knows that Ramadan or Eid ul Fitr around the world is a period during which Muslims observe a month-long fast. This year's Ramadan began on April 24 and was climaxed on May 24, 2020.

According to him, Liberia has miscalculated when it comes to providing basic rights to Muslims in the country since its foundation.

However, Mr. Krayee did not say which holiday must be given Muslims in the country, but wants the Weah-led government to give Muslims a holiday.

He further acknowledged strides made by President George M. Weah and past leaders to better the social and economic protection for Muslims. But such strides, he says, have not quenched the aspiration of Muslims that have been longing for equality.

He added as saying: "Our people continue to wonder why is it that Christians are not given bags of rice during Easter and Christmas, but Muslims are given bags of rice during Ramadan. No, we (Muslims) do not want bags of rice, we want a holiday."

In a reaction to this demand, the Bishop of the Lutheran Church in Liberia, Jensen Seyenkulo said: "What I don't like in their demand is the statement that there will be chaos. We should live in consideration of each other, and if I must have certain rights, others must have the same right too."

Relating to holidays for Christians, Bishop Seyenkulo noted with emphasis that Christmas is a global festival that Christians celebrate worldwide and is not legislated in Liberia. For Easter, he said it draws attention to appear like a holiday because Christians are more in number, noting that this, also, is not legislated in Liberia. Fast and Prayer Day, Bishop Seyenkulo said, cuts across every religion in Liberia and not restricted to one religion and therefore does not reflect a Christian holiday.

Making referencing other countries in the sub-region, Krayee noted that Liberia is the only country where Muslims do not have a holiday.

"It is now time to stand up to the true meaning of Jesus Christ who says do onto others as you want them to do onto you. Do onto the Muslims in Liberia as they have done to the Christians in Guinea, Senegal, and other countries. Give us our full rights in terms of subsidies to schools and holiday. We will not continue to beg on our knees for what is legitimately ours in this country. Our people are getting impatient."

Views from Christians trending on social media indicate that in Muslim dominated countries Krayee is referencing, Christmas is treated there with no recognition. "In Liberia here, Muslim Ramadan is treated with dignity and Christians identify with them because we want peace, but not in Guinea, Senegal, and those countries that are Muslims dominated," one post said.

In a contrary view, another post said: "If Christmas is a holiday, Ramadan can also be."

After appreciating President George Weah for easing the restraints of the lockdown a day before the close of Ramadan, Imam Krayee said Muslims in Liberia are impatient when it comes to seeing Christian holidays, adding that they (Muslims) don't have a holiday since 1847 when Liberia was founded.

He added: "We are calling on the religious leaders; we are calling on the political leaders that this country is treading on a very dangerous path. We are not threatening anything but our people, the masses of the Muslims people are growing impatient. After this Coronavirus, next year, we will not receive any offer from the government until we have our holiday. We will tell our people, and we want to be very clear, keep your bags of rice if you cannot give us our holiday."

Imam Krayee, who earlier frowned on past and present leaders for their refusal to grant Muslims the right to holiday, however acknowledged the kind gesture of the government over the years. "We appreciate the bags of rice; we appreciate the kind gestures, but keep your bags of rice, keep all your tokens. The Muslims of Liberia are no longer interested in tokenism. We know this government didn't start the segregation in this country," he said.

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