By Raine Tarka Golegio
Muslims in Liberia have tasked their lawmakers to legislate Ramadan and Ibrahim Days as national holidays.
On Tuesday, several Muslim groups from all parts of the country, under the auspices of “Movement for Islamic Holidays in Liberia” gathered at the Liberian Capitol building in Monrovia, chanting slogans to make their demands known.
In an interview, Abdullah Dauda Swary, President of the State-run University of Liberia Muslim Students Association, a member group under the Movement for Islamic Holidays in Liberia, told AFRICA PRIME NEWS, that non-declaration of Muslims holidays is injustice and violation of their constitutional rights in keeping with article 14 of the Liberian 1986 constitution, which emphasised the separation of church and state and the prohibition of a state religion, which further gives every Liberian the right to exercise their religion without interference.
Swary added that unlike other African countries, Liberia is denying Muslims rights by not recognising the importance of their major festivals.
“While there are several National Holidays, it will interest you to know that the Muslim community does not have a single holiday dedicated to Muslims, which is contrary to the constitution,” he said.
The group asserted that there was need for Muslims to enjoy holidays just like the Christians who celebrate the Christmas Day, and Thanksgiving Day among others.
Receiving the petition, Montserrado County District #4 Representative Rustonlyn Suacoco Dennis, Chair on the House’s Committee on Claims and Petition, assured the group of the legislators commitment to look through the matter.
“As a matter of fact, we are going to do a serious comparative analysis to a country like Syria, Iraq, and Tunisia, and we come into the West African path to know as to whether these bigger Muslim’s Nations do have such a holiday.
“And again, in Liberia, it’s not about what we feel. I do know about Christian holidays; Sunday is, if I can be corrected, I know Sunday is a holiday for municipal activities and it just doesn’t matter, the Supreme Court doesn’t care how we feel. It is the Justice system that interprets the Laws. It’s incumbent upon us to go by the laws and regulations. We’ll engage the Committee in a meeting for clarity,” Rep. Suakoko-Dennis said.
Since 1995, Muslims in Liberia have been advocating for recognition of the two festivals; Ramadan and Ibrahim Days, as national holidays in the Christian dominated Liberia.
According to the 2008 National Population and Housing Census in Liberia about 85.6% Christians; 12.2% Muslims; 1.4% persons who claimed no religion and 0.6% people of indigenous believes while 0.1% people of different religious groups including Baha’i.
On Friday, the Chief Imma of Liberia Ali Krayee vowed to consistently pressure the Liberian government to create Muslim holidays and further indicated to take peaceful actions, looking at the upcoming mid-term senatorial elections slated for December 08, 2020.