Benoni Wilfred Urey, the political leader of the All Liberian Party (ALP), has promised to reward leaders of the Liberian Muslim community by establishing a Department of Islamic Affairs in the country if they help him get elected president of Liberia come October.
Urey, a renowned businessman, has also vowed to ensure that Muslims are given similar rights and privileges as other Liberians.
ALP Head of Islamic Affairs, Imam Musah Baloh, made the disclosure at a brief ceremony in the Muslim-dominated community of Jacob Town, outside Monrovia, where Urey had gone to identify with the Chicken Farm Arabic and English School, which is currently under construction, where a group of Islamic leaders had gathered to grace the occasion.
“I have held so many meetings with your religious leaders and they know what we have agreed upon,” Urey told the gathering. “They know what I have promised to do, but you have to do your part by giving me your vote.”
Urey said he will continue to stand and support every Liberian, Muslims being no exception, noting, “I will seek your interest and will make sure you have the same rights as all other Liberians. This is my promise to you and your leaders are aware of this.
He said if Muslims in the country feel marginalized, then this is the ideal time to fight for equal rights and relevance.
“Marginalization of Muslims in the country will come to an end under an ALP regime, because I have equal respect for all and I feel we should be treated equally. I will ensure this happens in this country,” Urey assured the Muslims.
He boasted of building a very smooth relation with Liberian Muslims over the years. “I don’t have to say it, but many among you will attest that I have a very good relationship with the Muslim Community; even my best friend in Liberia is a Muslim. So I have always been a part of you,” Urey told the gathering.
“I have had series of meetings with your leaders and they know what we have discussed. Believe you me, when I’m elected president, I will make true all my promises. You just have to fulfill your part of the agreement, and I will fulfill mine.”
Liberians are expected to go to the poll to elect a new president that would succeed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, whose second and final term elapses early next year. The next president would be sought at the October polls.
Meanwhile Mr. Urey has pledged 100 bags of cement to continue the construction of the school.
In response, Imam Baloh told the audience that this is the moment and time for the Muslims to seize, and if they failed to do so, Liberian Muslims will remain “marginalized for a very long time.”
He called on fellow Muslims to act, adding, “There is a need for us to act now and we should not let go of this opportunity.”
Baloh then encouraged his colleagues to rally their congregations to vote a candidate that will seek the collective interests of the Muslim Community, and not just few “hypocrite Muslims,” who want to enrich themselves at the detriment of their fellow Muslims.
Imam Baloh said the Muslim community no longer needs hypocrites who don’t work in the interest of Muslims in the country (though they appear to be in the vanguard for them), but do so for self-aggrandizement.
The Cleric is the head of the Logan Town Central Mosque. He is also the current First Deputy Speaker of the National Imam Council of Liberia.
“Our community has been permeated by hypocrites and these are the most dangerous people in any society. We should not be led astray by these hypocrites,” he said.
“We should not lose the opportunity of gaining national relevance, because we are at the verge of getting there, even though there are some hypocrites among us who want to use our community to make money for their businesses and though they are supporting people who have never been there for us.
Some of them have stood against us in the past, even in court.”
He said Urey is not like others who, in the past, did not fulfill their promises to the Muslims.
Baloh said Urey has always been there for the Muslim Community. He noted that Urey was the only politician who stood by them morally, physically, financially and materially when the issue of Christianizing Liberia came out.
Baloh noted that Urey was one person who was also influential in sending many Muslims to hajj in Saudi Arabia when he was at the Liberia Maritime. “The records are there, Urey was always there ensuring that the Muslim community gets money to make their trips. He is a good man.
“He was the only prominent Liberian that I saw behind me when we went to present our petition at the legislature against proposition 24. Urey has always been with us. We did not see all those who are now coming to us for votes. We need not to be hypocrites….we need to be there for those that are there for us when we are in difficult periods.”
Urey was present at the event with his Special Assistant Bintu Barry and Senior Advisor Haja Mawata Kamara, who are Muslims.