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What More Must the Liberian Government Do Give Recognition to Islamic Holidays In Liberia?

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Since the National Constitutional Review Conference held from March 29 to April 2, 2015 in the Central Liberian City of Gbarnga in Bong County, the leadership of the Liberian Muslim Community – especially the National Imam Council, continues to be very uneasy and untiring about the results of the conference – one of which calls for the Christianization of Liberia.

Such contiguous aggravation is against the backdrop of the overwhelmingly approved 25-propositions by delegates attending the conference to amend the 1986 Constitution of Liberia. The proposition – now before a Joint Committee of the Liberian Legislature, calls for the ‘Christianization of Liberia or reinstating Liberia to a Christian Nation’.

Characterizing this religious agitation are threats of secession, mobilization of Muslims across Liberia, as well as boycott of the pending referendum, among others, by Muslim Leaders in Monrovia without any cautions from the Liberian Government.

In the wake of the uncertainty about the matter in the Legislature – even though a hand full of Legislators has vowed to vote against proposition 24 upon introduction in Plenary, Islamic leaders in Monrovia are resurrecting another argument or debate, i.e., national recognition of Muslim holidays.

Sometimes in 2006, Muslim leaders in Liberia demanded from the government that `Eid al-Fitr – one of two main religious celebrations for Muslims, be made a public holiday – a demand not given credence.

Similar call was again reiterated by another official of the National Imam Council at the end of this year’s end of Ramadan because the Government of Liberia observes Easter and Christmas as national holidays.

While some Christians in Liberia may have different opinions/views Proposition 24 of the Gbarnga Constitution Review Conference calling for the reinstatement of Liberia to a Christian State and may be in solidarity with their Muslim counterparts – perhaps for separate reason(s), they may also be in total disagreement with them on the issue of ‘Christian and Muslim holidays in Liberia.

In the first place, it is no secret that Easter and Christmas are internationally recognized world-wide holidays not created by any Liberian Government. Just as Easter and Christmas are celebrated in Liberia, so are Muslim holidays, including `Eid al-Fitr, except that the Christians are in the greater majority.

For example, not all Christians close businesses during Easter and Christmas as compared to the Muslims, whose businesses, including public transport, are all closed at the end of Ramadan.

In other countries, especially in Africa, wherein Islam dominates the Christian Religion, Islamic Holidays, including `Eid al-Fitr, prevail.

As far as our recollections is concerned, the only public religious holiday enacted into law by the Liberian Government, through the Legislature, is National Fast and Prayer Day, observed and celebrated by both Christians and Muslims in Liberia every year. It is not necessarily a Christian Holiday.

By the way, past and present Liberian Governments have always given full national and uncompromising unending recognitions to major Islamic holidays by supporting and participating at all levels, including pilgrimages to the Holy City of Mecca – and so, what more must the Liberian Government do to recognize Islamic Holidays in Liberia?

It is, therefore, unfair for leaders of the Muslim Community, especially the National Imam Council, to blame the Liberian Government for observing Easter and Christmas, when – in their right minds, the two holidays are Liberian holidays enacted by law.

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