Just days after heated arguments in the Chambers of the House of Representatives over a proposition to make Liberia a ‘Christian State’, Liberian Muslims have said that they will not resort to any form of violence in their opposition to Christian groups that are seeking for the country to be declared a ‘Christian State’.
The Chief Imam of Liberia, Alhaji Muhammad Abdullah Sheriff, said Liberian Muslims have remained peaceful and have promoted coexistence since the formative days of the state.
To amend the 1986 Constitution, Liberians are expected to go to a referendum to adopt several proposals, including the controversial proposal to make Liberia a ‘Christian State’, which Liberian Muslims have objected to, fearing that they will be declared second class citizens.
Imam Sheriff told his audience, which with the exception of Imams who have converged from the 15 counties and other members of the Muslim community also included stakeholders from the security sector, other religious leaders and the office of the National Peace Ambassador of Liberia, at the Unity Mosque in Fish Market, in Monrovia, that Liberian Muslims have resolved to be ambassadors of peace and will continue to say no to violence.
He said Liberian Muslims are aware of ‘some unscrupulous’ people in the global Muslim community who continue to make their religion look bad in the eyes of the rest of the world. “Their actions clearly contradict the Qur’an. As for us (Liberian Muslims) we will continue to be agents of peace,” he said.
He added that the NICL will continue to work for the propagation of ‘true Islam’ in the interest of all humanity.
“We have resolved to be peaceful, and will remain peaceful forever and ever,” he said, adding that the Imams must lead this endeavor.
However, the conference hall of the Unity Mosque went silent for moments when Sheikh Ali Krayee, Deputy Chief Imam for National Affairs, in a strong tone said Liberian Muslims will not allow themselves to be reduced to second class citizens in their own country, with clear reference to the proponents of the ‘Christian State’ proposition.
He said those who are pushing for Liberia to become a ‘Christian State’ are themselves enemies of the state. “They are creating a time bomb that can explode where no one will escape. No group of people will accept to be considered second class in their land of birth,” he said, although proponents of the ‘Christian State’ agenda have refuted claims that they would reduce Liberian Muslims to second class citizens.
Imam Krayee, who is Krahn by tribe, described Liberian Muslims as peaceful but promised not to bow to any decision that will reduce them to second class in their own nation though he did not explain what is involved in his promise.
Serving as the guest speaker at the event, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) Force Commander, General Saleh Zuhair Uba, said there is a need for Liberians to unite in order to maintain the hard-earned peace that the country currently enjoys.
He said UNMIL will continue to support all who want to see peace in Liberia, because this is the only way the society will strive. He told the NICL that they have chosen the right path, which is in the interest of Liberia.
Other dignitaries who graced the occasion were representatives from the embassies of Sierra Leone, Nigeria and the United States of America, as well as some organs of the UN. Also present was the National Peace Ambassador of Liberia, Rev. William R. Tolbert III.