Religion should not be a cloak for hidden Political Manoeuvrings in Sierra Leone   -Concerned Citizens Caution

Vice President of Sierra Leone Dr. Juldeh Jalloh and Dr. Samura Kamara’s

By Amin Kef Sesay

What has now become the much talked about or topical issue in different circles around the country is that which transpired on the 25th October 2019 in the East End of Freetown. This time round it has to do with religious accreditation and recognition.

The showdown place is the famous Basharia Mosque on Bombay Street. Founded by faithful followers of late Imam Bashar Sankoh Yilla, believed to be a reformer of modern Islam from the Oldfield Temne Mosque in the 90s, the Basharia Mosque has always been a citadel of power manoeuvrings amongst big ruling political vons and opposition classes in Sierra Leone.

From the days of Siaka Stevens to J.S. Momoh, Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, and Ernest Bai Koroma, hardly a leader passes by without worshipping and working with the Basharia Mosque. So it has not been a surprise to see current ruling party (SLPP) political echelons and opposition members visiting the mosque. However, such visits are always greeted with Islamic fanfare and great expectations for political support.

Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh
Dr. Samura Kamara

On that fateful Friday it was not clear whether the Vice President of Sierra Leone Dr. Juldeh Jalloh was visiting the mosque to seek political support. But what was clearly understood is that he was there as a faithful Muslim to worship Allah. Unfortunately he clashed with the former front runner of the main opposition Dr. Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara and it turned out into brouhaha.

According to reports, crowds booed at the VP and the Islamic clerics of the mosque too failed to give him the required attention and protocol he deserves. This became a serious problem leading to a commotion.

There is another account which states that after the official prayers when the clerics of the Mosque handed over the microphone to Samura Kamara to make a statement, the latter handed it over to the Vice President out of respect. It was there and then that certain unaccepted and untoward statements from the congregation were made purportedly against the Vice President.

The outcome of the incident has left many tongues waggling and some have now come to question Dr. Samura Kamara’s act as a breach of Public Order Act.  His accusers are pointing fingers at him of trying to disrupt and affect the peace of the country by perambulating in a false capacity after elections were long overdue and done with.

Even evangelicals have come to question the former APC presidential candidate’s faith as he is seen more often aligned with Islam than being a Christian, especially a Catholic as he goes to mosques everywhere to pray.

They argued that obviously his intention was not seeking the face of Allah but rather hidden political motives, which is condemned as wrong.  The incident has also shed a bad light on the Imams who have come under scrutiny for being accused of cheap and compromising politics.

Many have come to see the situation in different ways. For one person this medium contacted, Abdul Sankoh he said though he prays at Basharia Mosque yet the action of the mosque was wrong. For Sankoh, the VP would have been given all due respect as a leader duly elected together with the President.

He maintains that Samura Kamara lost the elections of 2018 and was left with no titles both at party level and national level therefore he cannot equate himself to any political leader at the time unless he becomes an ordinary citizen who complies with the laws to gain favour and not to stand on the way of the current leaders.

“He deserves no special treatment in the Muslim Faith to prop him for the next election. It is an outrage,” stated Sankoh.  At social forums, the argument has dominated minds and the ugly picture of politics and religion is once more painted and sending fears that 2023 won’t be an easy ride for the country.

Kamara’s behaviour at the Basharia Mosque raised a lot of doubts about Islam in Sierra Leone. Many Muslims now believe that Islam was being blatantly adulterated by the lies of Samura Kamara. This brings to the question whether a Muslim has rights to seek permission before praying into any mosque. Normally this is not a rule either in Islam or politics even rather a normal practice by Muslims to go to any mosque and pray which the VP did.

According to an Islamic scholar, the Vice President being a devoted Muslim and second in command, giving him recognition and warm reception was the expected protocol by the mosque. His failure to inform the authorities before going there should not be used as an excuse for insult. The distinction between private and public life was failed to be realised both by Samura and Basharia mosque and this led to the mis-happenings at the mosque.

It should be noted that everywhere in the world, public life is more respectable than private life and in exercising these rights; the two should be well balanced not to affect each other, especially when in a position of trust.  Although the incident could not be associated to be politically, religiously and tribally motivated, yet should be viewed as a matter of integrity rather than the old rhetorics.







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