Banjul South National Assembly member Touma Njie has been lambasted for her “insensitive” comments calling for the removal of mosques in public places.

The populist MP, who is also a Muslim, made the fiery statement last Wednesday at the National Assembly.

She said: … with this idea of having these mosques in our public places Madam Speaker, we should revisit them. We can have prayer places for every Gambian who would wish to pray but a mosque?

“We shouldn’t have mosques in all these places, Madam Speaker. Let them call me whatever they want, I serve my community, not a selected few.”

Her comments created a backlash in the deeply conservative country where 95 percent of the population are Muslims.

Gambians took to social media to vent their anger at the MP.

“Who can justify this nonsense?Sometimes I think it is not all alright with Touma Njie.
Gambia has more pressing issues than religion. Muslims have no issues/problems with other faiths. How can a practising Muslim makes such a remark?
Religion is not our problem in The Gambia,” said Tunko Marenah.

“How can a Muslim ask for the demolition of a mosques? Is it to prevent people from offering salat?,” asked Saihou Bah, a teacher.

“In this beautiful country where our religious cohabitation is second to none, we do not only have mosques at public places which rightly symbolize the predominant religion in the country, but other important places that have a bearing on people’s lives like churches, night clubs and bars, are also at public places too. So if not for some discreet objectives best known to you, I wouldn’t see the logic of picking on mosques as your biggest headache,” said Alhagie Abubacarr Darboe, a lecturer at the University of The Gambia.

“It’s very sad seeing our National Assembly members not talking about how to improve the living standards and livelihood of their electorates but rather talking about religious affairs, this is pathetic. The rights of the majority should be safeguarded and they deserve justice let her work on important matters affecting her constituency,” said CK Saidy, a student.

However others have defended her arguing that her speech was taken out of context.

“She did not say stop praying. Jeez. She said make it a place of prayer for everyone. Here in the UK there are prayer places for everyone. You demand it here and you can’t give it there. It just beggars belief. Equality here surely must mean equality there too,” said Nana Ofori Atta, a filmmaker and activist based in the United Kingdom.

“Hon Touma Njie is a patriot. She practices what she preaches: a lady of conscience and integrity,” said Dr Pierre Gomez, a lecturer at the University of The Gambia.

“I honestly didn’t see anything wrong with the statement. I actually applauded her for the stance knowing very well how the mass will interpret it. The timing though I thought was not prime enough for most of the people are misinformed, and we as a society have a lot of teaching and reaching out to do. Way too many issues/controversy in Gambia, and adding new ones will just derail any gains, if there is a such thing as gains,” said Basirou Jeng

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