OPINION: Why President Barrow Needs A Special Mosque

Monday, February 06, 2017

Unknown to us that the president was going to observed his Friday prayer at a mosque in Kololi, we hurried in the early hours to earn the extra bonuses of reward. Right at the gate, I got my bag screened by men in paramilitary uniform. No threat found, they confirmed, but added that I could enter the compound with the bag, but not in the mosque.

“I have been making prayer appointments in this mosque for ages with the same way I come today, but there has been nothing of such blockage on us. What is going on?”, I enquired.

“Well, the president is coming to pray here”, they responded. “Okay, can you keep it safe for me until end of the prayer?” I asked. “No, that’s not why we are here”, one of them said.

We went in to perform ablution and proceeded to the back door where my bag got checked again and all our purses screened vigorously before we were allowed entry.

As we stepped in, a young officer rushed to block my way. “Why”, I asked. “The bag was thoroughly checked at all the previous points, and it is certified harmless”. According to the officer, the bag is big in size and despite my promise to burden myself alone, he said no. It is just a school bag.

“Go to the nearby homes and look for somewhere to keep it”, he suggested, but I told him that I do not know people close to the mosque. “Do you know where I come from?”, I asked him. He responded, “I am not interested in that, as he pushes me away from the mosque.”

“Look. What type of religion are these people here for?” I asked my friend. But before he commented, one of the mosque committee members, who has been reading the situation with a sympathetic eye, offered to keep my back in his apartment. We said ALHAMDULILLAH, All Praises and Thanks Are For Allah SWT Alone.

Behind us, were several other situations of security ambush prompting noisy reactions from visitors. It could be read that we were not the only few unprepared for interrogations at the point of prayer. The frustration was readable in faces at all ends.

Upon our entry to the mosque, we found security men installed in various pillars with a rope tied to preserve the entire front space. The freedom of first-come, first-served on the rows of the mosque was totally hijacked. The Imam had to point out certain elders to come forward, but many were already censored and reluctant to jump above or sneak beneath the rope to go forward.

The focus was on the guardsmen on how they interact with the people as to where one should or should not sit, or how one was allowed to behave in the mosque than focussing on the Imam and on his sermon.

The Quranic students, whose school is within the mosque premises, were line-up right from the security rope. Looking very scared but very busy peeping on every step taken by the security officers.

I wondered again. What are people in the mosque here for?

Even after all was set for the prayer, people could not fill the front gaps as in the case of congregation prayers.

One of the committee members of the mosque whispered to me, “things are not easy here today!”

Observably, people felt oppressed with their religious freedom seized.

Ebrima Bah