Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Candid Look at Bropleh’s Islamic Holiday Proposition

Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei

Since the patriotic stance taken by the Information Minister calling for the recognition of a major Islamic Festival as a National Holiday in Liberia, many persons have come out with dissecting views on the matter. Some, so dogmatic and willing to compromise anything to impress their congregations, have pushed for the expulsion of Bropleh from the service of God Almighty. Yet, some so intellectually incline and cognizant of the growing need for the fertilization of the ongoing peace process have taken the cross with Bropleh to wave the debate through the logic associated with it. But a third group, claiming to be member of the intelligentsia, have joined this debate with bombastic controversies clusterized with disjointed propositions. This group, gyrating around the lampoon of the ‘theoretical Secular State’ provided by the 1986 constitution, continues to ignore the reality of the de facto Legislation of Christianity in Liberia. Among them is an acclaimed student of Law, named and styled S. Herron Gbidi, who marketed his own cancerous limitations and ignorance in the January 30, 2008 edition of the Public Agenda Guest Column, a regular meeting point for intellectuals and logicians. This unsuspecting imp, in an article entitled ‘Bropleh’s Menacing Call for Islamic Holiday’, presented ill-fated arguments in which were self-stultifying and self-contradicting elements. He at one time justified the de facto, yet empirically state-sanctioned Legislation of Christianity by his unfounded claim that ‘Liberia is a predominantly Christian nation’. At another time he hypocritically withdrew from that point by fallaciously interpreting the government poverty reduction, peace and democracy objectives relative to religious tolerance.

Change as a universal permanence is precipitated by time and events. When it is time for a necessary change to take place in any given human society, the events of the day, and the people involved should be given prominence. Christianity as a religion in Liberia got influence from state resources and maximum support. This does not in any sense makes Christianity a state religion. In fact, considering our national experience, which is stained with immoralities, dehumanization, stealing and bloodletting, all well-meaning Christians will swiftly distance Christianity, a religion of divine principles, from the national affairs of Liberia. Liberia was never legislated as a one-party state under the True Whig Party, but the TWP’s hold on power and dominant style of authoritarian rule, gave it a de facto status that its activities became national activities for more than one hundred years. When it was time for the change, only the conscious patriots from within the same realm blew the trumpet for democratic change …and we saw the resultant events when there were attempts to nullify the proposition and eliminate the advocates.

The recent call by Dr. Lawrence Bropleh for the recognition of Islamic Holiday is a call that must go beyond our frozen sentiments to a level of analyzing and forecasting the livelihood of peace in this country, if at all we are serious about our call for democracy. For anyone to ignore the exclusive privileges given to Christians in this country at the expense of the Muslims is a self-imposed blindness to reality. The fact that Government Ministries and State Agencies are closed on Easters and Christmas is sufficient for a patriot to recognize the brutalization of the 1986 Constuitution. The irony of this matter is that with the influx of pro-democracy organizations and political parties in the country none can ably recognize this violation of the constitution; but all arguments have been driven behind unconstitutional political appointments, corruption, and the hunt for grants from donors.

Though Bropleh’s position is strange and impalpable in the minds of the hyposensitive ones, the reality is crystal and pursuant to the building of peace in this country. How then can he be seeing as anti-peace or someone in search of a political bloc? In Bropleh’s mind, the worship of God by an individual should not be motivated by state legislation, whether de jure or de facto. Individuals should perform their religious obligation based upon their faith, and the state should have no intervention thereof. But the state’s involvement had gone so deep to the extent that its own legal provisions are grotesquely violated, and at the expense and violation of the right of another group of its citizen.

The government’s policies or objectives of ensuring economic revitalization, rule of law, infrastructural development, peace and democracy all encapsulated in a poverty reduction strategy paper can not be attainable without generous commitment to the state’s own constitution and the principle of equal treatment of citizen. An Islamic Holiday in Liberia on a major Islamic Festival shall not only benefit the Muslims but will also promote peaceful coexistence because this will open more windows of opportunities to celebrate and even share with each other. You may agree with me that because the major Festivals in Christianity like Easters and Christmas are recognize as national holidays in Liberia, Liberian Muslims have the time to celebrate with the Christian colleagues, but unfortunately for some of the Christians who will want to celebrate with their Muslim friends on the day of Eid- Ul Fitri (Ramadan Day), there is no similar opportunity since the day is not even a working holiday. This is done right in neighboring Sierra Leone where on both Christmas and Ramadan Day; one can not easily distinguish the Muslims from the Christian, because all are hands in hands celebrating each others joy.

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