With House Speaker Alex Tyler’s recusal as Presiding Officer of the House of Representatives now history, one issue that is becoming hotly debatable in Monrovia is the observation of Islamic Holidays in Liberia.
The issue had previously been introduced a few years back, but failed to sustain for reasons best known to the progenitors. Just recently, it got resurrected when the controversial Nimba County Prince Y. Johnson formally submitted a bill to the Plenary of the Liberian Senate for the enactment of two Islamic Holidays into law. The relevant committees of the Liberian Senate – Judiciary and Claims and Petitions, are currently looking at the bill for the necessary recommendation(s) to the Senate’s Plenary for passage or otherwise shortly.
The bill, introduced about five weeks ago, calls for the observance of the end of Ramadan and the Feast of Abraham (Lungee) as national holidays in Liberia just as other Christian Holidays.
Senator Johnson, in his justification, informed his colleagues that the bill was 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 provides 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 Senator: “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.”
In other words, Senator Prince Johnson, who continues to be consistently inconsistent in his various public comments, may be suggesting that the only way of ‘achieving unity in diversity among us and building such solid foundation of a society of peace, tranquility, stability and security for prosperity”, is to make the End of Ramadan and Abraham Day as public holidays in Liberia. He’s also suggesting, in view of the foregoing, that Muslims be recognized for their valuable co-existence and contributions.
Except for reason(s) not yet known for the latest development, Liberian Muslims, Christians, Bahai and others had always lived in unity and peace since the inception of the nation. Just as the Muslims have and continue to contribute valuably to the country’s growth and development at all levels, so have and are the Christians and other existing Liberian religions.
And so, the argument(s) of Senator Johnson and his likes may just not be enough to convince any well-meaning Liberians. Additionally, claims about only Christian Holidays in Liberia may just
be too far from understanding or reasoning. The celebration of Christmas, East, as well as Good Friday, etc., etc., are all on the basis of universal principles and not Liberian laws for any sound mind to argue against.
And the issue of Fast and Prayer Day and Thanksgiving Day as public holidays in Liberia is un-debatable if it something Senator Prince Johnson and his likes may be thinking. These two holidays are observed annually by all existing religions in Liberia and not only Christians against the backdrop of the unfortunate situations regarding national security with which Liberia was confronted at the time.
While one may not have qualms with the Senator’s stance on the observance of two Islamic Holidays, the justifications provided to his colleagues and public are reasonably off track and not enough to substantiate his quest.
Even though well-meaning Liberians may be very cognizant of the factors that influence present day decisions (lawmaking) in the Liberian Legislature, the challenges are still on the heads and
shoulders of members of the Senate and House of Representatives for redemption by acting on issues and matters of national growth and development as members of the House of Elders.