As the debate to legislate Liberia as Christian continues here, Muslims in Kakata, Margibi County recently shutdown the entire Kakata by shutting down their businesses in a peaceful protest against Proposition 24that seeks to make Liberia a Christian state.
The proposition was among over two dozen propositions validated in March at a National Constitutional Review Conference held in Gbarnga, Bong County, central Liberia. Muslim delegates, who attended the conference, voted against the proposition, but they were defeated.
For several hours, top stores owned by Muslims in Kakata, Margibi County were closed and those Muslims plying commercial bikes and taxis avoided the streets as they gathered for Friday prayers. Some residents of Kakata described the Muslims’ protest as being decisive; saying, it is not fair to carry on such act.
Reports from Kakata say Muslims are also seeking to have Friday prayer time declared a national holiday to enable them stay home and close their businesses for prayer. “It is about time we too have our right to observe our holy day; we have Christians observing Sunday as a forceful holiday that every Liberian stays home; I am a Muslim, but I normally stay home on Sundays; I close all of my businesses because Christians say Sunday is a holiday,” said Mawatta Kamara, a well known businesswoman of Kakata city.
Speaking to this paper recently, Mawatta, who runs one of the biggest building materials store in Kakata City, vowed to continue closing her business on Friday to observe prayer time like the way Christians take Sunday to stay home to rest.
Liberian Muslims under the umbrella Islamic Solidarity for Peace and Democracy blamed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for bringing division among Liberians through the Constitutional Review Committee, established to amend certain provisions in the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.
The ISPD has vowed to wage unrestricted civil disobedience throughout Liberia, if Proposition 24 is legislated. According to them, President Sirleaf is the first error by forming a constitutional council with only one Muslim appointed on the board.
“The President is responsible for the division among Muslims and Christians. No one can make Liberia a Christian State; Liberia is not anyone father’s property.” They argued that Liberia has been ruled by Christians for 168 years without development, saying, “You gave millions of dollars for the celebration of X-mas, Easter, and other Christian holidays but not a single dime has been spent on Muslim holidays.”
A Christian group is leading the campaign for a ‘Christian State’ here. It had argued that Liberia was founded on Christian principles in line with Preamble of the 1847 Constitution of Liberia.
However, a revised constitution written in 1986 under a military junta led by Master Sergeant Samuel Kanyon Doe, which gave birth to the Second Republic, declared Liberia a ‘secular State’ – which seems to be the root cause for the current debate. By Ethel A. Tweh – Editing by Jonathan Browne