Mr Sanneh, Nyancho, I have at last got the time time to respond to the comments above.

In the first place, I am sure I did not deliberately intend to confuse Islamic civilization with Arab culture. In any case, however, I am just trying to be as realistic as possible.

We as Gambians or Africans for that matter have a long history of adopting religions that are of foreign origin without first and foremost separating the religion in question from the cultural norms of its promoters. Christianity and Islam being cases in point. When selling them to the unsuspecting African they have respectively been packaged in the promoters’ culture – and history likewise shows that we have hitherto been very bad at separating the two in practice. Again, due to the rampant illiteracy and functional illiteracy on the continent.

The versions of Islam being peddled in our streets today are manifestly wrapped in Arab Middle-Eastern cultural values. Hence, the need for us to be continuously vigilant in the face of the invasion. Middle-Eastern culture has polluted Islamic practice in that part of the world, and these are the people who have over the past decade or so been allowed to interpret Islamic doctrine for us in The Gambia.

Our brothers and sisters in Sudan and Somalia have been doing that for over a century. Has it increased tolerance towards people who believe in other religions, racial and tribal harmony, democracy and the rule of law in these countries? Of course the answer is a resounding no! I contend that the lack of respect for these fundamental values entitle me to refer to these countries’ interpretation of Islamic doctrine as culturally backward and unenlightened. The same can be said of all the countries on the northern tip of Africa. Accordingly, as Gambians, we should insist on the tolerant and peaceful Islamic culture that we have been practicing in the country up to now – at the expense of the culturally contaminated one practiced in the Middle-East.

As someone with a legal background, I must confess I disagree with your yearning for a caliphate where the ruler would be both righteous and God fearing after assuming religious, legislative and judicial powers This is only possible in theory, unfortunately.

The existing evidence as to the efficacy of “Islamic theocracies” in our modern world is very, very poor to say the least. Besides, a modern day caliph has to contend with a huge bureaucracy. Remember, these must necessarily be administered by modern day bureaucrats who are by no means immune from human frailties: greed, corruption, abuse of power to name but a few. Iran is an excellent case in point in this regard.

In conclusion, a caliphate as a panacea to the evils of dictatorships is but an illusion in our modern day and age. They can, as I said, never be free from corrupt practices and other injustices associated with undemocratic forms of government.

Saikou M.D. Manneh

Ends

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