Let me make this clear, it is not wrong to have different religious groups observing their religious days as holiday but what is wrong is giving the privilege and right to only one group while the other(s) is ignored. Over the period, Muslims have been calling for the establishment of Muslims religious day (s) as national holiday (s).This is the debate that has been arising over the times. This is bounded on the glaring fact that their CHRISTIAN counterparts celebrate CHRISTMAS day as national holiday. Some may say it is not a national holiday because it is being observed Internationally. OK. Is the CHRISTMAS day not part of the national holidays of Liberia? The answer is yes, it is.
Going forward, the CHRISTMAS day is only observed as national holiday in CHRISTIANS nations in the world, no Islamic state is coerced to observe it as national holiday and is being observed principally by people of the Christian faith in the world. Places like UAE, Saudi and other Islamic states, Christmas day is not a national holiday there as Liberia has included it in her national holidays. Now, the point here is this, if Christmas day is being observed as national holiday or being recognized within the national holidays of Liberia as holiday, then I think it needs to be extricated from there. Because from an implicit or indirect viewpoint, it’s a national holiday in Liberia for CHRISTIANS and this contravenes article 14 of the 1986 constitution of Liberia.
It is precipitated upon this, that the MUSLIMS over the period of times been requesting for their religious days to be observed as national holiday to balance the scale. If Muslims are not given national holiday while Christians celebrate CHRISTMAS day as national holiday, it sounds to many of them that, Muslims are not Liberians and Liberia is a Christian nation. This is the belief many CHRISTIANS hold. The request of MUSLIMS having national religious holiday (s) is in concurrence with article 14 of the constitution of Liberia, paragraph three of which states that ” No religious domination or sect shall have any exclusive privilege over any other, but all shall be treated alike”.
This is the major sentence that addressed this issue. The last paragraph of this article ends by saying that ” Consistent with the principle of the separation of religion and state, the Republic shall establish no state religion”. This paragraph is simply implying that, there shall be no state religion and the religions existing within the Republic should be given equal privilege and right. You don’t need a legal luminary to interpret this for you. It’s clear in vivid words. It is based on these constitutional basis that Muslims are calling for their national religious holiday as their right enshrined within the constitution, since the CHRISTMAS day is being observed as national holiday. The constitution calls for equal privilege and right.
The question here is why are some prominent CHRISTIANS blocking these constitutional provisions? You ponder over that! I will get to it later in this write-up. Few days ago, a group of clergymen assembled at the capitol building, headed by Bishop Isaac Winker of the Dominion Fellowship. As head of the delegation, Bishop Winker ‘asked the senate pro-tempore of the senate not to endorse any petition requesting them to enact into law a religious holiday whether it is CHRISTIAN or MUSLIM’.
The Bishop went further by saying that ‘they have come to seek the wisdom of the leaders not to give CHRISTIAN holidays to CHRISTIANS or MUSLIMS’. According to the Bishop, it is not good for our peace to grant religious holiday to any of the two religious groups, MUSLIMS and CHRISTIANS. Let’s look at this keenly and critique it logically. Isn’t CHRISTMAS day being observed as national holiday day?
The MUSLIMS and CHRISTIANS have lived together for so many years. CHRISTIANS have been observing CHRISMAS day as national holiday and MUSLIMS have not been observing theirs as national holiday, what has happened to the peace of Liberia relative to this matter? Have MUSLIMS resorted into any brutality or violence against the observance of CHRISTMAS day as national holiday? No. So, why will the Bishop say that endorsing holiday for any of the two religious groups would ruin our peace? I think this is not true. And leading a delegation at the capitol building just to block the establishment of religious holiday is not fair.
Do you know why the clergymen petitioned the lawmakers not to endorse any act requesting religious holiday?
Here is it. The reason is very simple and clear.
- It’s because they don’t want MUSLIMS to have their days being observed as national holidays.
*They don’t want to share the same privilege and right with MUSLIMS as provided or enshrined in article 14 of the 1986 constitution.
And lastly, * they don’t want for MUSLIMS to have a deep sense of LIBERIAN-NESS.
Blocking religious holiday (s) from MUSLIMS is totally unconstitutional and undemocratic. The MUSLIMS are not opposing other (s) not to champion their cause for national holiday(s). The question here is why are the CHRISTIANS opposing the MUSLIMS request for a religious holiday? Then, we will look back up to answer this question as stated earlier. There’s something behind this and it will be stated soon. The CHRISTIANS need to know that, Democracy thrives base on the obedience of the law and tolerance of various views. As the reasons stated above, that is the only reason behind the clergymen petition but I call it as “protest” against the establishment of religious holidays whether for MUSLIMS or CHRISTIANS.
Let me restate that, the CHISTRIANS don’t want MUSLIMS to feel equal to them in privilege and right as stated by the constitution. That’s what they want to avoid. I can tell you for free that there’s CHRISTIANS religious holiday in Liberia. The reasons why many CHRISTIANS or Liberians perceive Liberia as Christian state is because CHRISTMAS day is being celebrated as national holiday while MUSLIMS holidays are not. This is why many of them think Liberia is a CHRISTIAN nation. This is why MUSLIMS are being marginalized and discriminated. This has to stop. That is religious intolerance and religious bigotry. It needs to stop.
Religious holiday (s) for MUSLIMS is a must as long CHRISTIANS enjoy religious holiday like CHRISTMAS. It is not going to stifle any peace in this country. If religious holiday is not given to MUSLIMS now, we will continue championing the cause for it. It’s unavoidable, unless the CHRISTIANS want to CHRISTIANIZE the nation but this can only be done by scratching out article 14 of the 1986 constitution.
Let me say this very emphatically clear. If any disorder or conflict that may arise as the result of the establishment of religious holidays for religious groups in Liberia, MUSLIMS and CHRISTIANS to celebrate their days as holidays, I can say without fear that, it will be instigated or fomented by the CHRISTIANS and others who are not in support of religious holiday (s) because they don’t want MUSLIMS to observe their religious days as holidays. Many of them think that MUSLIMS are foreigners, as such, they must not be given equal privilege and right as compare to them (Christians). These are people that have failed to read the history of our country rightly.
Let me conclude by saying that, there’s a covert conspiracy against this matter of religious holiday (s) and that is to keep the MUSLIMS on the margin.
Down with religious intolerance. Up with religious tolerance.
Forward, religious equality, forward.
Down, down, religious inequality, down.
About the writer:
Kromah-EJK, a student activist, advocate, writer and pan Africanist, can be reached via email@example.com