Religious tolerance should be safeguarded

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Being the smiling Coast of African does not only stops at being hospitable, but also religious tolerance which is a very core in our values and social setup.

This has for so long make us very special and binds our relationships as a nation of one people. This also reminds us about the word of our scripture that we were created by one God Who made us into tribes and nations so that we may know each other.

Our scripture also tells us to respect each other’s religion and force no one into our religious beliefs and settings, and The Gambia is a model in that.

A daylong religious reporting seminar organised by the Amadiya Muslim Jama’at was fundamental considering the nature of today’s world, considering how it is moving; the scale of fundamentalism and extremism. The role of journalists and their understanding of global issues in relation to religious matters is essential.

For the Amadiya Muslim Jama’at, journalists need not to do it alone – a situation that has compelled them to render a helping hand so as to better the world – a world that is full of religious intolerance, hatred and suspicion.

However, the initiative came at a time when The Gambia has no room for religious extremism. Information minister has made it clear when he said that the government will never allow religious extremists to come and sow seeds of divisions among the population through their propagations.

The minister warned that hate speech and religious propaganda can be used as instruments to violate the rights of others, signaling the press people that they should be very mindful of inflammatory remarks that other people might utter in the context of religion.

Journalists covering religious issues have an important role to ensure that information they analyse, interpret and provide are devoid of discrimination, promote religious tolerance and should generally be used to increase public knowledge and understanding of other religions, he advised. “For over a decade, the interest in the way media reports religious issues has increased and critiques have raised the burning question of whether journalists have done more harm than good when covering events and issues that touch upon religion,” he further stated.

It is the media’s responsibility to represent different social groups accurately, he argued, noting that such is fundamental in order to support good relations between communities and people of different religious backgrounds.

We wish to thanks the organisers for such an important event as religion is an essential element of human life and if not well propagated and interpreted, the tendency of it having far reaching consequence is high. We, however, call for religious tolerance across the country, Africa and the world in particular.  

“Religious tolerance is something we should all practice; however, there have been more persecution and atrocities committed in the name of religion and religious freedom than anything else.”

Walter Koenig