Long before the dangerously divisive proposal to constitutionalize religious intolerance in Liberia reached the Liberian Senate, the President Pro Tempore, Senator Arma Zolu Jallah, has let it be known that he will vigorously oppose it.
He told our Senate Correspondent Burgess Carter that he (Senator Jallah) is definitely against “using the law of the land to marginalize one religion against another.”
Well, that is exactly what those divisive, shortsighted and peace threatening Christians attending the Gbarnga Constitutional Conference attempted to do last week, when they voted for Liberia to become a “Christian state.”
We must, too, at the very onset of this Editorial, caution the Muslim youths, especially those who have been staging demonstrations and making threatening public statements, that they, too, seem to be jumping to the same extremism of which they accuse the Christians who attended the Gbarnga Conference.
Surely, these Muslim youths should know that the vast majority of Liberian Christians would not support what the handful of Christians gathered in Gbarnga last week have done—most certainly not the Daily Observer, Liberia’s oldest surviving newspaper founded by a Christian family. Remember that at the very beginning of this newspaper in 1981, we invited Muslims to do a weekly column alongside a Christian one. Since we returned to the market in 2005 the Chairman of the Muslim Council himself, Sheik Kafumba Konneh, has been writing the Islamic column.
These Muslim youths have mostly been educated at Christian Schools, and have many Christian friends whom they know are not religious bigots but people who are not only tolerant but also respectful of other people’s faiths. So these Muslim youths should remember all of this—the genuine camaraderie (friendship, companionship, solidarity) they have through the years enjoyed—and are still enjoying—among their Christian schoolmates and teachers.
But here are some Muslim youths threatening violence and even “secession”—which means war. None of these Muslim youths was yet born when “Biafra” seceded from Nigeria in 1978; but these youths must have read history and know what happened.
God Almighty, who created the human being, gave us minds to think—and also to remember. So far Liberian Muslims have been behaving in an exemplary manner, by only observing all the Islam-perpetrated violence and wickedness occurring in many places around the world. We have thankfully heard of NO Muslim youth from Liberia traveling to join jihadist groups abroad.
The only unfortunate thing we have noticed—and this newspaper has said it—is that most of the Muslim leaders and people have been strikingly silent about these atrocities committed, unfortunately in the name of Islam. We say “unfortunately” because we, too, believe that Islam is a religion of peace, but all too many adherents of this religion have proven—and acted— otherwise. Look what happened in Kenya last weekend.
All of this, and what we have said earlier in this Editorial, should cause our Muslim brothers and sisters to engage in sobering reflection before making radical statements . They must remember that speech is silver; silence is gold. They should never forget the wonderful experiences they shared with people of all other religions, including non-believers, going to school in Liberia and living among the Christian majority. How many Muslim s can truthfully say that they grew up among Christian “bigots”—extremists, racists, narrow-minded people?
Now here is the President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Arma Zolu Jallah, a staunch Roman Catholic who, we are sure, went to school with many Muslims in his native Gbarpolu and elsewhere, now coming out to condemn what these so-called Christians did in Gbarnga last week. Remember, there are many people who, once they assume power, forget the past and forget even their friends— but not Senator Jallah. Yes, he is Catholic; and he now has a lot of power. But thank God, he has a level head and a good heart. Our Monday Editorial criticized the Christians at the Gbarnga Conference, and called on the Legislature to REJECT the proposal to turn Liberia into a Christian state.
We are positive that under the Pro-Temp’s watch, and with other clear thinking and astute Senators, like Senator Varney Sherman, a man of legal eminence from Muslim-dominated Grand Cape Mount, that proposal will never reach the constitutional referendum.