Gambia: President uses Qur’an burning to attack advocates free of expression

By Kemo Cham – Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh has questioned the US government’s differential treatment of controversial Pastor Terry Jones for his “devilish” act of burning the Holy Qur’an, thereby endangering world peace and security.


Yahya Jammeh brandishing Qur'an

Yahya Jammeh brandishing Qur'an

Florida pastor Terry Jones last month carried out his earlier threat to burn the Holy Qur’an, which resulted in massive demonstrations around the world and the killing of scores of people, including UN officials in Afghanistan, where the pastor’s act appeared to have caused the greatest anger.

However, for Yahya Jammeh, the pastor’s act serves as a perfect example of the dangers advocates for freedom of expression poses to world peace. He therefore used the misguided action of the little known US pastor to mount a fresh attack on advocates of freedom of expression.

“As heinous a crime as Terry Jones’s actions, goes to vindicate Gambia government’s that dangerous criminals must never be entertained under the guise of any freedom, as they endanger lives of decent and innocent people by their crazy and evil fantasies,” Jammeh said in a statement, as always is these days, read on his behalf by his de factor spokesperson, the Secretary General and head of the Civil Service of The Gambia.

Terry Jones, Yahya Jammeh said, has carried out his threat which is a declaration of war on Islam and Muslims, thereby endangering world peace and security.

The Gambian president who often evokes Islamic religious fanatical mindset vowed that Muslims the world over could not stand by and accept such provocations by “infidels’ like Jones.


Controversial Florida Pastor Terry Jones

Controversial Florida Pastor Terry Jones

“We the Muslim worldwide cannot stand idly by and allow racial dogs, bigots and dangerous infidels like Terry Jones and his collaborators to not only defame Islam, but desecrate on the noble and glorious Holy Quran for whatever reason,” he said.

Yahya Jammeh’s strongly worded statement of attack on the pastor’s widely condemned action, coming some three weeks after the act, strongly warned the US authorities against treating the pastor differently in the name of freedom of expression.

“Why is Terry Jones being treated differently from those Muslims that have similar views about non Muslims and the West?” Jammeh queried, before rallying a call on the Islamic Ummah to fight off such challenges and provocation.

“Enough is enough,” he swore.  “Terry Jones’ burning of the copy of the Holy Quran, our sacred book from our creator the Almighty Allah, should be the last wake-up call for Muslims to be united in defense of our noble religion and the glorious Quran…”

The timing and choice of tone of Yahya Jammeh’s statement is bound to raise questions considering the prevalence of increasing demand by Gambians for freedom of expression.

Widely condemned for his disrespect for civil liberty, Jammeh has had funny ways of justifying his condemnable policies at home by making references to similar contentious international development.

His ranting about Terry Jones’ action as representing the dangers posed by advocate of free expression clearly points to this.