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Sunday 13 December 2015

Gambia declared as Islamic republic

Gambia declared as Islamic republic

Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh has declared on Friday that the tiny West African country will be an Islamic republic. He said the decision was taken after considering the fact that Islam is the religion of the majority of its citizens and to break from the nation's colonial past, according to media reports.

Jammeh made the declaration at a political rally in the coastal village Brufut, about 15 kilometers west of the capital, Banjul.

"In line with the country's religious identity and values, I proclaim Gambia as an Islamic state," the Gambian leader said. About 90 percent of Gambia's 1.8 million people are Muslims.

"Gambia cannot afford to continue the colonial legacy," Jammeh said. The country gained independence from Britain in 1965.

Jammeh said the rights of Gambia's Christian community will be respected. Jammeh said that there will be no mandates on dress. "We will be an Islamic state that would respect the rights of all citizens and non-citizens."

The head of the country's Islamic body wouldn't say if he endorsed the declaration. In television footage of the address on GRTV Saturday, the president did not go into detail about what the change would mean for the country, but he reassured Christians and followers of other faiths they would be able to worship freely.

"Christians will be given their due respect. The way of celebrating Christmas will continue," he said, adding that no one had the right to interfere with others' "way of life".

"We haven't met yet to discuss over the presidential announcement," said Gambia's Supreme Islamic Council Chairman Imam Momodou Lamin Touray.

It is noteworthy that Jammeh stressed that the rights of the Christian minority in the country would be respected and that women would not be held to a dress code, according to Business Standard online news.

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