GAMBIA: No Longer an Islamic Republic

Source: Open Doors, February 6, 2017

At the end of 2015, Gambia’s then President Yahya Jammeh pronounced the West African country to be the Islamic Republic of Gambia, saying the decision to make it an Islamic state was made because Islam is the religion of the majority of Gambian citizens. This decision raised fears among the Christian minority and human rights groups, but now Gambia’s new president, Adama Barrow, has pledged reforms, including removing laws in Gambia’s constitution that violate freedom of religion.

Speaking at his first news conference since taking office on January 26, President Barrow said the country’s official name will no longer contain the word “Islamic.” Gambia, whose population is 90 percent Muslim, with the remainder of the population being Christian and animist, will move forward as the Republic of Gambia, rather than the “Islamic Republic of Gambia.” These encouraging changes are a welcome sign to Gambia’s Christian minority that the new administration will be more disposed than the outgoing president to safeguard religious freedoms for all citizens of Gambia.

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