Friday, 19 June 2009
From The Standard Times a report followed by editorial comment on the recent destruction of a church in Sierra Leone by a Muslim group.
The story above was published on the 16th June 2009 in the Standard Times edition. The story was about a criminal activity so to say knowingly and jointly carried out by a group of individuals purporting to be Muslims in the Mambolo Chiefdom, Kambia District on a Church, not too long ago which was constructed by the Lord’s Mission to bring salvation to residents of that area. The publication did not go down well with two sheiks, namely Alie Kallay and Sheik Fomba. Unfortunately, overcome by sentiments and emotions they ignored the substance of the publication and demonstrated their bias against the author of the publication for calling the group of individuals who set fire on a church building “MUSLIM REBELS”
For the purpose of fair comment and justification, this writer who was attacked by Sheik Alie Kallay and his cohort Sheik Fomba would limit comments regarding the issue on the substance of the publication and why a description of such nature was ascribed to this bunch of lawless men and women who took the laws into their hand to perpetuate criminality, and now walking the streets of Kambia and Mambolo free, while the mission and those who were receiving salvation from church left in frustration.
The Editor is bravely continuing to promote the desirability of peaceful religious co-existence and emphasising the peaceful potential of Islam.
This is what the preacher men and teachers of the Muslim religion, who are parading the streets of Freetown under the nomenclature of Sheiks are supposed to do in the interest of peace and stability of the country and protecting the image of the Muslim religion, but woefully, both Sheiks Alie Kallay and Fomba failed to do that when they took up the issue in a radio programme aired on Tuesday Night at the Voice of Islam FM102.0. It was like justifying the criminal action of this group with the perception that there is nowhere in the world that a church building was built on a piece of land where a mosque had stood before.
This is not only absurd, but a clear manifestation of religious hypocrisy exhibited by these two men using a religious radio station to criticize those who are completely against the inhuman, unreligious and criminal action of these people. Was there a church in Rokbop Village called Lord’s Mission Church established on behalf of the residents of the Mambolo Chiefdom? Was this Church burnt down by a group of individuals acting under the guise of Muslims? Did the Police in Mambolo Chiefdom, Kambia District arrest a number of people including a Sheik by the name of Lamin Sesay who led the group to commit the offence for which he was not punished, released and allowed to go free?
These and more are the issues and not whether Philip Neville is a Church goer or not. These are facts that cannot be ignored by any sane minds apart from Sheiks Alie Kallay and Fomba, who are toying with the truth. There was a Church in the village of Rokbop, built by the Lord’s Mission and this church was burnt by a group of Muslim rebels and the water facility valued at $20,000 provided by this mission was equally destroyed and equipment stolen by the group. This group that carried out the act came from the outskirt of the village and not the beneficiaries of the church and the facility provided.
Sheik Alie Kallay and his team are blind to this undisputed fact and reality of the ugly situation that took place in the district and the only way they thought it fit to console themselves was to attack the author of the publication for exposing the bunch of rebels that caused the mayhem on the lives of the residents of the village. Perhaps, what Sheik Kallay and other insane minds failed to comprehend is the fact that the facilities enjoyed by the residents of the village and those who used to benefit from them have been deprived, not only of salvation; but the gift of nature, which is water. Is that the behaviour of a true Muslim?
The issue of peace and stability which were merely happed upon by Sheik Kallay and Fomba during the programme was not done sincerely, if it were they should have first condemn the action of the group who rebelled against the Christians and appealed to the Christian victims to be patient and forgive these people, the same way Jesus Christ appealed on behalf of the Pharisees to God when he was on the cross, saying “Lord forgive them for they know what they are doing”. Here we see how the affected Christians comported themselves for peace to prevail, if not they too could have reacted the same way, which would not augur well for national and religious developments in the country.
Attacking Philip Neville for reporting the action of a few disgruntled men who have demonstrated no respect for the religious beliefs of another group is obscure and unbelievable, especially from a set of religious teachers whom much is expected from. Let Sheik Alie and group accept the bitter truth that the action of this group is criminal and indecent and be ready to register their apology to the church. Whether a mosque was there before the establishment of the church or that the village of Rokbop is not a defence, because Sierra Leone is not a predominately Muslim state, but a country where religious tolerance is the norm and practice.
The committee setup by government to investigate the ugly incident MUST endeavour to come out with its findings and recommendations so that groups acting in this manner under the guise of any religion will stop. President Ernest Bai Koroma, himself being a devout Christian must called the leaders of the two dominant religious groups together and educate them about the role of religion in the development of the state and good governance. Sierra Leone is not a breeding ground for religious intolerance, religious terrorists and religious rebels as this is not the first time that a so-called Muslim group has levied an attack on a church. Sometime back, similar group acting on religious sentiment attacked a church at Portee and inflicted pain on the people. It should be noted that the days of barbarism are far gone, and we are now living in a global village where interdependence, inter-marriages and religious tolerance are the ingredients of peaceful co-existence of mankind and not religious supremacy or domination.
African Christians are not shy of standing up for their faith.
Posted on 06/19/2009 3:27 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
19 Jun 2009
Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Esme. I have just read - and prayed - through it.
I enjoy the plain speaking and practical thinking of those African Christians. It is notable that rather than just building a church the Christians also built a well with (so far as I can deduced) what one might call a mini-waterworks for the whole community...water of life.
It is also notable that the Muslims made their usual nonsensical claim to 'prior ownership' (of the church site, in this case)...and smashed and burned and pillaged, destroying a valuable new community resource.
For those who may not know, I will throw in some background information on Sierra Leone, from my Christian sourcebook Operation World [OW] and from the CIA factbook.
OW said (2001) that Sierra Leone was 70 % Muslim (rate of increase 4.5 %), 18 % traditional religion, and 12 % Christian (rate of increase 2.9 %); official language English with Krio (Creole) as lingua franca. In 2001 the country was viewed as having ceased to function as a viable state...is anyone surprised, given that it was 70 % Muslim?
OW also notes that "during the 20th century Islam grew from 10 % to maybe 80 % of the population" (it would be interesting to find out figures for each decade and correlate them with the level of 'instability').
CIA for 2009 is cautiously hopeful (which, in a way, chimes with the fact that the posted article shows that village Christians were organised and confident enough to gather resources and ask for help from the Church Universal, to build a church and water well):
'democracy is slowly being reestablished after the civil war from 1991 to 2002 that resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of more than 2 million people (about one third of the population).
'The military, which took over full responsibility for security following the departure of UN peacekeepers at the end of 2005, is increasingly developing as a guarantor of the country's stability [hmmm -I'd like to know whether Muslims control the military..if so I would not be very hopeful of longterm peace...dda]
"The armed forces remained on the sideline during the 2007 presidential election...The new government's priorities include furthering development [good luck with that, when Muslim rent-a-mobs destroy village waterworks built by Christians - dda] and stamping out endemic corruption [good luck with that, in a country 70-80 % Islamised...dda]."
The CIA factbook religion breakdown differs somewhat from the OW figures - stating Muslim 60 %, Christian 10 %, animist/ traditional beliefs 30 % (this variation between OW and the CIA guesstimates may be accounted for by syncretism between traditional beliefs and both Christianity and Islam).
19 Jun 2009
John M. J.
Good post, Esme. Thanks for the highly informative background, dda - most useful.