Senator Prince Yormie Johnson (Nimba County) has submitted for enactment into law a bill calling for the observance of the end of Ramadan and the Feast of Abraham (Lungee) to become national holidays in Liberia.
The Feast of Abraham is the day Muslims celebrate the deliverance of Abraham’s son Isaac, who was to be offered as a living sacrifice to God; while the Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim year, is a period during which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset.
According to the bill read before Senate Plenary on its 55th day sitting, Senator Johnson noted that the bill is in consonance with “An Act to Amend Chapter 1 (National Holidays ) of Patriotic and Cultural Observances Law (Title 25 of the Liberian Code of Laws revised ) and provide thereto two widely celebrated Islamic days – End of Ramadan and the Feast of Abraham (Lungee) – to be observed as national holidays. ..” for plenary’s consideration and subsequent submission to the House of Representatives for concurrence.
The Nimba County lawmaker recalled the existence of the long standing relationship between tribal and religious groups, including Muslims.
“Of course there is not any society in the world which is void of remote accidental occurrences that spark tensions with the potential and proclivity of triggering tribal or religious skirmishes; our society has always responded positively in a mature fashion to subdue any such heightening tension; and if, inadvertently, there be any friction resultant thereof, same is swiftly quelled, before the situation is blown out of proportion,” the Senator added.
Senator Johnson, an erstwhile rebel leader, and now a ‘born again’ Christian, reflected on the major roles Muslims have played in Liberia’s body politic, and their continuous and tremendous contribution to the growth of the Liberian economy through business, trade and distinguished public service.
“It is but prudent and in the best interest and fulfillment of our onerous desire of achieving unity in diversity among us all and building such solid foundation of a society of peace, tranquility, stability and security for prosperity, that our Muslim compatriots be recognized for their valuable co-existence and contribution by considering the end of Ramadan and the Feast of Abraham (Lungee) as national holidays,” he stated.
The bill was received and sent to the relevant committees, among them the Judiciary, and Claims and Petitions, and requested to report to plenary in three weeks.
Senator Johnson’s bill comes in the wake of an unresolved constitutional issue concerning a group of Christians calling for a referendum through which votes would be cast to declare Liberia a Christian State. The call has been openly rejected by several mainline Christian churches, including the Catholic Church, which has one of the largest followings.
It may also be recalled that at the beginning of Liberia’s 14 year civil war, both the Christian and Muslim religious groups came together and formed the Interfaith Mediation Council, which was active in the search for an early resolution to the conflict, and gave birth to the establishment of an interim government and the subsequent coming of an ECOWAS peace keeping force (ECOMOG).
Two of the pioneers and former leaders of the Interfaith Mediation Council, Sheikh Kafumba Konneh and Catholic Archbishop Michael Kpakala Francis, lived to see the return of peace they devoted their lives to. Archbishop Francis went through years of sickness until he passed away a few years ago while Sheikh Kafumba passed away early last year.
Prominent world advocates lauded the formation of the interfaith body as a landmark endeavor by Christians and Muslims uniting for the common purpose of restoring peace and unity to their country.