Muslims Fear ‘Alienation’

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The National Muslim Congress of Liberia has rejected the proposition to make Liberia a ‘Christian Nation’ for fear that it will bring division and go against the peaceful coexistence between the two religious communities.

The chairman and secretary general of the National Muslim Congress, Sheik Abubakar Kamara and Sheik Omaru Kamara, in separate presentations said the longstanding relationship between the traditional people and Christians “will be threatened.”

They made the statement recently during a one-day public hearing held in the House first floor conference hall at the Capitol Building.

The hearing was on the 25 Propositions submitted by the Constitution Review Committee (CRC), which is under scrutiny by the Joint Committee on Good Governance & Government Reform, Election & Inauguration and Judiciary, to set the agenda for a referendum for the amendment of the 1986 Liberian Constitution.

Sheik Kamara added that making Liberia a Christian state “also has the potential to divide the people of Liberia, including the traditional people, who have been living together in peace and harmony since 1847.”

Former Grand Cape Mount Senator James Momo, Mohamed M. Kamara and Mohamed M. J. Manssalay of the Muslim community said the Christianization of the country would make Muslims “secondary citizens” in every sector of the government, including employment.

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is on record for having rejected the Christianization of Liberia, saying it will bring about division. “I do not concur with this view,” the President stated in her letter attached to the CRC report which she sent to the National Legislature for its review and action. “Liberia was established on a foundation of Christianity nevertheless the founders of the republic did not then put into the Constitution a declaration of Christianity as the religion of the nation.”

She contended that the Constitution of Liberia has always allowed freedom of religion and freedom of worship so as to avoid seeking to prescribe one religion as an official state religion, and stressed that “to make the country a Christian state now will only create division among the people of the country who have been living together for a very long time,” despite their religious differences.

She further noted that Article 14 of the Constitution clearly separates state from religion and says further that the state shall establish no official religion.

Meanwhile, Rev. Arnold Hill, the head of a seven-man delegation, told the lawmakers that Liberia needs an identity like other countries.

He indicated that they are advocating for the country to be a “Christian Nation,” not a “Christian State,” and explained the difference between a ‘Christian Nation’ and a ‘Christian State.’

Rev. Hill said in a ‘Christian State’ both structural and economical organizations, including political and economic positions are occupied only by Christians while in a ‘Christian Nation’ that is being advocated for Liberia, appointment to positions will be based on merit and will be occupied by both Christians and non-Christians. He refuted the claim that non-Christians will be second class citizens if Liberia were to be declared as a Christian Nation.

The Chairman of the House Joint Committee, Nimba County District # 8 Representative Larry P. Younquoi, thanked the religious groups for their presentations and said it would help the Committee make an informed report to Plenary for subsequent approval, and then to the Senate for concurrence.

The CRC is headed by former Chief Justice Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott, and was set up by the President to review the Constitution of Liberia. In March 2015, the committee, at a conference held in Gbanga, Bong County, approved 25 recommendations to set an agenda for amending the Constitution.

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