West & Central Africa

Gambia will no longer be ‘Islamic’: Christians welcome change

The new Gambian president, Adama Barrow, said last week that the Gambia will no longer be called the “Islamic” State of Gambia which was added in December 2015, by Yayah James, his predecessor who is now in exile after losing the general election and refusing to concede power until he was forced out by a coalition of West African Countries.

President Barrow said, in a new conference, that the Gambia was “not the Islamic republic”, though it has over 80 percent Muslims and just about 20 percent Christians and Animists. The Gambia will simply be a republic where freedom of the press will be upheld and human rights respected.

Barrow’s female vice president Fatoumata Jallow-Tambajang, “a former minister and United Nations Development Programme staffer, was the architect of an opposition coalition that helped Barrow defeat longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh in a December 1 presidential election.”

Jallow-Tambajang claimed that the exiled president Jammeh would face prosecution, soon after the announcement of the election result a comment widely believed to have made Yayah Jammeh change his mind to concede defeat until he was forced out of Gambia.

The head of a missionary team working in the heartlands of Banjul among Muslims, told Global Christian News, under conditions of anonymity: “This is an answer to prayers for many of us who have feared the way former president Jammeh had labelled the country as an “Islamic Republic”.  We had feared he was going to arrest Christians on the streets with a kind of anti-christian move. Our prayer is that President Barrow will be more open to reform the country in a way that we all have a level playing ground without fear of persecution.”

The missionary added: “With the little we have seen we are confident that God is turning things around. We have to do a lot of things underground in many communities. But with more liberty more [former] muslims will be bold to express their [new] Christian faith.”