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Muslims vow unrestricted civil disobedience

Liberian Muslims have threatened to resort to unrestricted and perpetual civil disobedience against “Christian Theocratic laws and policies”, including attempt to legislate a ‘Christian State’.

The Muslims protested on the grounds of the Capitol Building Tuesday, May 19, 2015, carrying placards that read:  “For peace sake, remove Proposition 24”;  “We will resist Christian State”; “Liberia does not need religious identity”; “We want good healthcare system; not Christian State”; and “Provide equal rights for both Muslims and Christians and not one-sided”, among others. 

They called on all Imams and Muslim leaders throughout the length and birth of Liberia to begin mass sensitization of all Muslims in the country in response to what they termed “such a well-calculated religious attack.” 

In a six-count resolution presented to Senate President Pro-Tempore Armah Jallah Tuesday at the Capitol, they called on the Legislative and Executive branches of the Liberian government to trash proposition 24 and all 25 propositions that were validated by delegates at a Constitution Review Conference held in March in Gbarnga, Bong County under the auspices of the Constitution Review Committee or CRC established by the Government of Liberia.

The CRC under the chairmanship of ex-Chief Justice Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott, solicited views from citizens across the country last year on provisions they want amended in the Constitution of Liberia, which led to the Gbarnga conference. Among others, Liberians want tenure for the Presidency reduced from six to four years; tenure for the Senate and the House of Representatives reduced from nine to six, and six to four years, respectively. They also called for the election of county superintendents, chiefs and city mayors, including others.   

But Muslims here say proposition 24, which calls for Liberia to be legislated as a Christian State, is an attempt to institutionalize discriminatory tenets that could potentially ignite disenchantment among Liberians. “This, by extension, threatens the gains made in sustaining the fragile peace we currently enjoy”, the resolution read.

Presenting the petition to Senate Pro-Tempore Jallah, the Vice Chair of the Islamic Solidarity for Peace and Democracy in Liberia, Knowden Williams, said the six-count resolution was adopted by delegates at a three-day National Muslim Conference held in Sinje, Garwula District, Grand Cape Mount County.

Knowden said delegates at the Sinje conference also resolved to mandate the leadership of the Islamic Solidarity for Peace and Democracy or (ISPD) in collaboration with Islamic leaders, and organizations to pursue all legal and constitutional means to defeat and expose the illegality, and unconstitutionality surrounding the attempt to impose Christianity as a State religion.

He pointed out through the resolution that the 1986 Constitution of Liberia should be upheld and interpreted as the organic law of the land, saying, “We will categorically reject any attempt that will give rise to a referendum purposed at constitutionalizing this proposition.”

The Muslims also called on the government to at all time, ensure the unconditional protection of their socio-economic, and political rights as guaranteed in the 1986 Constitution regardless of ethnic and religion backgrounds.

They said the government through the Liberian Legislature must ensure the immediate inclusion of more Islamic institutions, especially schools in its annual budgetary allocations in the forms of subsidy as it is in the case of various Christian institutions.     

“That Muslims in Liberia will continue to recognize the 1986 constitution as the only organic law of Liberia, and adhered fully to its provisions until such provisions are abridged by those responsible to uphold and enforce same - thereby allowing Christian fundamentalist to wrongfully impose their will on the constitution against ‘the common good’ of the Liberian people.

And in that event, Muslims in Liberia will resort to unrestricted and perpetual civil disobedience to any such Christian Theocratic laws and policies”, the resolution concluded.

The ISPD Vice Chair further indicated that from historical facts documented about the chaos that followed attempt to execute the discriminatory Ducor contract of 1822 to the archived atrocities that marked the Liberian Civil War, which resulted to wanton loss of lives and properties due to tribal and religious molestation, “We are forewarned and have come in the interest of national tranquility, to roll out phase one of a well formulated and coordinated plan of different magnitude and direction aimed at preventing the recurrence of the past and solidifying the foundation of religious tolerance, a firm foundation on which Liberia was built, and has always peacefully sailed until now, in the vague attempt to introduce intolerance and discrimination.” 

Responding to the petition, Senator Jallah commended the Muslims for being peaceful in their protest and assured that that the document would be sent to committee room for deliberation and appropriate response.

Commenting on Tuesday’s gathering at the Capitol, Liberia’s Justice Minister and Attorney General, Benedict Sannoh, said the protestors did not obtain permission from the government as required in order to ensure their security under the law. Minister Sannoh said he was taken aback by the action. By Lewis S. Teh - Edited by Jonathan Browne  

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