Muslim Elders from across the Greater Banjul Area on Sunday shortly after the EID prayers of Eid-ul-Fitr called on the President, Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh at State House in Banjul.
The occasion was part of the usual traditional courtesy call and greetings to the Gambian leader on Eid-ul-Fitr which began since the colonial days.
They also used the occasion to give thanks to the country's leadership and to discuss with him on government matters related to the Islamic religion and things that are happening in society as well as to renew their allegiance to the President and the government.
Addressing the gathering, Professor Jammeh also used the occasion to renew his call on the youths of this country to change their attitudes, stating that the country cannot be developed faster if our youths are not ready to work towards that direction.
President Jammeh further stated that he was surprised that there was no Gambian butcher within KMC when he decided to make meat available to all Gambians by giving out bulls to interested municipalities. The Mayor of KMC showed his interest but that all the butchers are non-Gambians.
This is very sad and he therefore called on youths to rather stay in the country and work to help their parents so they can earn a decent and honourable living at the same time contributing their quota to the development of the country than using make-shift boats on the back way to Europe encountering all sorts of things, he noted.
President Jammeh warns that he will no more use government's money to evacuate anyone from the camps, but instead the money would be spent on health and educating youths who are willing to stay in the country and join in the development process.
Murderers, rapists, armed-robbers and drug dealers will neither be tolerated nor will they be spared, President Jammeh said. "I have sworn to protect the constitution of this country and to make sure that justice is delivered," the President added emphasising that the law will be strengthen to those who harbor murderers or criminals. He strongly warned that anyone found habouring criminals, your compound will be forfeited.
President Jammeh stressed the fact that he is not going to compromise the peace and security of this country to anything, and added that if anybody wants to disturb the peace of this country or is anti progress. This country, he said, is not a place for such people because there will be zero tolerance as far as peace and security is concerned.
President Jammeh also called on men to support the women folk in the bringing up of their children because women cannot do it alone. "It is really difficult to be taking care of the house and at the same time going to the farms to be able to provide uniforms and other educational needs for their children".
He said the women are already over-loaded so men should therefore intervene in bringing up their children.
President Jammeh refuted allegations made by some people who are accusing him of spoiling the children but he said providing facilities to the young people so that they can excel and become responsible citizens, teaching them to acquire skills will not spoil any child.
He said that he will not allow children to be maltreated, but will support children to be brought up in our African values and culture and in a religious way.
Professor Jammeh reiterated the fact that religious leaders have a big role to play in helping parents on how to teach and bring up their children through preaching.
He emphasized that all Muslims are equal and should unite to care and have mercy for each other, but it is very sad to see Muslims fighting each other adding that even during the month of Ramadan prices of basic commodities are hiked and the business community is dominated by Muslims so if Muslims are fighting among themselves, then the enemies of Islam will stand and laugh at us.
President Jammeh further emphasized that Muslims should work in peace and unity. "Some people want to become Imams because of other purposes but not for the shake of Allah".
Concerning the citing of the moon, the Gambian leader stated that we have only three hours difference with Saudi Arabia and he gave the Supreme Islamic Council a one week ultimatum to decide to celebrate our festivities on the same date with Saudi Arabia.
For her part, Vice President Dr. Aja Isatou Njie-Saidy thanked the religious leaders and the President for the distribution of sugar as charity throughout the month of Ramadan.
Mrs. Njie-Saidy said changes have been made in the mode of dressing during the holy month particularly with the girls and therefore called on people to continue with those dressing styles.
She also called on family heads to talk to their children and the religious leaders to preach during their sermons that we must all serve as policemen and women in order to avoid all these unnecessary killings that are currently taking place in the country.
Vice President Njie Saidy also urged the drivers to drive with care and slow down while driving to save lives.
She pointed out that as Imams you are the ones representing the Holy Prophet (SAW) and his companions on earth today and that is why we trust you. We are looking upon you for good examples but if you start quarrelling for purposes that are not in line with Islam it will affect your followers and therefore urged them to continue setting good examples.
Armir Baba S. Trawally of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat called on parents to look into the mode of dressing of their boy and girl children who are now putting on dresses that are not in line with the Muslim dress code.
He also spoke on baby dumping and called on the business community to reduce prices of basic commodities for their fellow Muslims and emulate the good gesture of President Jammeh by helping Muslims to have access to everything they need during the month of Ramadan
Amirr Trawally also urged the wealthy Muslims to give out zakat as prescribed by Islam and he also advised Muslims to refer to the teachings of the Holy Quran saying mosques are places to worship Allah and should not be used to quarrel as if in markets and bantabas or political platforms and further emphasised that mosques are meant only to worship Allah.
Gambians, he said, should unite to work and develop the nation which cannot be possible without the full participation of youths. They must realize that not everybody can go to Europe but to stay here and contribute their quota to nation development is also very important.
The leader of the Mauritanian community prayed for Allah's continuous blessing for progress in The Gambia and the good intention that the President has for Gambians by paving the way for people to go back to the land to attain food self sufficiency.
He pointed out the numerous health facilities established across the country so that every Gambian and non-Gambian alike residing in the country can have easy access to health care delivery system.
He said the Mauritanian community is proud to be associated with the Gambian community and expressed their unflinching support to development plans as enshrined in the Vision 2020 blueprint.
The Imam of the Lebanese community Imam Rabbiah Frahad described Eid as a day of prayers, thanksgiving and for Muslims to have mercy for each other. He prayed and thanked President Jammeh for caring and securing all people residing in the country.
Other speakers include Imam Sillah, Imam Alhagie Cherno Dawda Jallow, Alhagie Ousman Sanneh, Saidou Muhammed Kabba and Muhammed Lamin Touray.
Ministers Antuman Saho and Ismaila Sambou both prayed for the health and wellbeing of the Gambia leader so that the country can enjoy more peace and developmental programmes in years ahea d.
By Fatou Touray