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As Basharia Muslim Denomination Intimidated

As Basharia Muslim Denomination Intimidated

SLPP Poses Threat To Religious Tolerance In Sierra Leone

Members of the Basharia, a Muslim denomination, community of Sierra Leone are very visibly angry at the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) regional secretariat in Makeni, Bombali District, for its action against them, which they said is “tantamount to religious intolerance”. A delegation led by Mr. Mohamed Koroma, Regional President of the Basharia Mosque, visited the Basharia headquarters in Freetown to apprise their leadership of what they have called “an ugly emergence of religious intolerance in Makeni”. The delegation include: Momoh Bangura, head of the united Bangura family, Ibrahim Kanu, National Vice President of the Basharia Youth, Alhaji Alie Conteh, President of the Basharia Young Men and Salieu Conteh, chairman of the Conteh family. (Photo: President Julius Maada Bio)

According to them, they have been accosted and intimidated by the SLPP Regional Secretariat because the former All Peoples Congress (APC) flagbearer, Dr. Mathew Wilson Kamara, worshiped in the Basharia Mosque in Makeni. A formal letter the SLPP Regional Secretariat wrote to the AIG and copied the Inter-Religious Council states amongst many other frivolous accusations that “the APC flagbearer prayed in the Basharia Mosque in that district” also compounded the frivolous claims.

What has puzzled the highly religious tolerant people of Sierra Leone is the SLPP maniacal threat to religion on the backdrop that this country enjoys an accolade of being the number one religious tolerant country in the world.

“What should we do now? Asked Ibrahim Kanu. “Should we now discriminate against known APC worshipers by preventing them from praying in our Mosque just because they are APC?” Mr. Mohamed Koroma explained, “They claimed that we have refused to recognize H.E. President Maada Bio and further accused that we said the SLPP stole the elections in their letter of complaint addressed to the AIG.”

Well, the regional president denied the claims in the SLPP letter of complaint but defiantly explained that “even if we said all what they claimed we said, isn’t in our right as citizens of Sierra Leone to be critical in expressing our opinion about the conduct of elections in our country?” He further went on to explain that we have enjoyed religious tolerance in Sierra Leone more than any other country has in the world and by their [SLPP] action “I must state that under SLPP, there is threat to religious tolerance in Sierra Leone.”

Notwithstanding that SLPP rabid politicians have reenergized themselves to go after religious tolerance in Makeni; one APC stalwart from Makeni stated that “let them be warned, for they have picked on the wrong destination for their unwarranted vendetta against the APC”. Please note that the SLPP is a minority in Makeni.

This is on the backdrop of a widespread post-election violence in Sierra Leone in which the SLPP operatives caused untold atrocities against APC supporters especially in the Southeast Region where the latter are a minority. The cry of burning, looting and killing went unabated to an unbearable crescendo that the APC opposition former flagbearer had to lead a delegation of APC leaders to State House to engage H.E. President Brigadier Maada Bio with the aim of calling his attention to the ensuing widespread post-election violence.

Despite the President’s response by setting up what he has called an ‘Inter-Cross Party Committee to investigate the widespread post-election violence and to promote peace nationwide, SLPP rabid supporters continue to go off at the hard earned democratic tangent, causing more atrocities against known APC supporters and members of APC executive.

Just this week alone, a councilor was beaten in the Eastern Freetown to helplessness while another was, in the Western Freetown, beaten to death by SLPP enthusiasts. The Mayor of Freetown could not be saved from the SLPP madness; she sustained a wrist injury from an attack on her person by SLPP supporters last week.

A renowned social analyst in Freetown observed, “This is looking more like a systemic ploy to humble the APC”. He explained that in one inter-cross party committee peace-building meeting, the Leader and Chairman of the SLPP openly stated in the widely spoken local vernacular of Sierra Leone if translated in English; “We are putting the pepper you put into our eyes in 2007 when you won the presidency.”

But the handing over notes of former President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has refuted that “irresponsible utterance” by the Leader and Chairman of the SLPP. Those who saw both transitions are of the view that “The APC had the SLPP stayed in power for, at least, three months in a smooth transition unlike the rash approach amidst human rights violations fully supported by an array of Executive Orders with which the people are now wrestling.”

What is more, the ensuing spate of violence has eroded the great sense of security the APC had instilled in the psyche of the people with respect to freedom of expression, conscience, especially religious tolerance, as well as the right to life, protection of life and property in the last ten years. But the buck stops on the desk of the President and that is why many people are pointing accusing fingers at H.E. President Brigadier Maada Bio for inaction.

For that, the APC leadership believes that the large number of similar acts of violence, threat of violence and human rights violations as well as the bastardization of and assaults on the Constitution and Acts of Parliament coming in quick succession against the nation and the APC is carefully orchestrated to incapacitate the APC. But the APC has maintained its avowed position that it would be a fruitless endeavour and the more reason the international community needs to pay serious attention to Sierra Leone’s political dispensation.

Recently, in his handling over notes, former President Ernest Bai Koroma was proud to state that, religious leaders from all denominations would hurriedly rise up against anything liken to threat to religious tolerance in Sierra Leone in the ten years he was president. What would H.E. Brigadier Maada Bio do is the butt of everybody’s apprehension at the moment except something changes and change very fast.

By Karamoh Kabba in Freetown

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