Mass demonstrations are imminent if the SLPP government dilly-dally to reopen places of worship now, the Sierra Leone religious leaders warned.

This is a stark warning coming from infuriated religious leaders to the incompetent SLPP government of President Julius Maada Bio demanding a prompt lifting of the unnecessary curfew imposed on the Churches and Mosques in Sierra Leone much to the disappointment of millions of worshippers in the country. NACOVERC, the department overseeing the coronavirus pandemic in Sierra Leone has also been warned by the inter-faith religious bodies.

The recent extension of the curfew for another one month on the places of worship nationwide has imploded the anger already fuming within the Muslim and Christian communities. “The government is just using the Churches and Mosques as scapegoats for their incompetence in handling the spread of the coronavirus. We will not allow this to continue,” a Muslim cleric who does not want to be identified told the Organiser newspaper from Kenema.

Sierra Leone is one of the few countries in the world where religious tolerance is at its apex. The co-existence of Christians and Muslims nationwide for generations has further united the various religious communities to sound out this unprecedented warning to the government of President Bio. “Lift the curfew immediately otherwise, we will call on everyone to take to the streets to demonstrate,” a leading Pastor confided.

State House sources have intimated that the cries coming from the religious leaders in this regard are a cause for concern because this is the first time since President Bio came to power on April 4, 2018, that the Christian and Muslim communities have taken up this unique challenge to admonish the government to do something now and lift the curfew on Mosques and Churches or face massive demonstrations hitherto unseen in Sierra Leone.

“We are not afraid to act. We are not afraid to demonstrate. Our only concern is not to provide the foundation for other protesters with different agendas to hijack our planned demonstrations. But we are ready to protest as soon as possible if President Bio and his government especially NACOVERC, the body mandated to take care of COVID affairs, fail to lift the curfew order on places of worship,” the Muslim spokesman noted.

To buttress this clarion call for President Bio to reverse this senseless curfew on places of worship, Sheikh Alusine Abdul Salam, the Head of Media and Public Relations Officer for the Centre of Public Enlightenment and Dialogue added his voice on behalf of the Muslim Community and the Inter-Faith Council in general. In his latest audio, Sheikh Abdul Salam sounded this warning message to President Bio. His warning to the ruling SLPP government and NACOVERC spokesman Solomon Jamiru was made before the extension of this ongoing curfew thus –

“This message is an advice, as the English say ‘To be Forewarned is to be Forearmed’ or ‘Warning before Wounded’ we want to send this message to the President of Sierra Leone and the NACOVERC and the entire authoritarian government of Sierra Leone. At the end of these two weeks, we want the government to re-open the Mosques because according to the Chairman of NACOVERC, he made it very clear when he summoned the inter-religious council on the 4th of August 2021 that the Diasporans are the ones bringing the coronavirus into the country. 

“That statement made by the Chairman opposed the statement made by Solomon Jamiru, the Spokesman of NCOVERC, who said the closure of the Mosques and Churches were responsible for the decrease in the number of the COVID-19 spread in Sierra Leone. We do not want to know about the figures because it is a number. What we are saying in essence is that you should not take us for a fool. We are not fools. If the Chairman of NACOVERC said the people of high risk of coronavirus infections are the Diasporans, then, tell me, why has the government closed the Mosques and Churches?

“I thought the places where the high risks are like the borders, the airport were the ones to be closed. But here we are, President Bio closed the Churches and the Mosques and then travelled to England. The same thing President Bio did the last time. He closed the Churches and Mosques for three months and then travelled to Lebanon. Only in the name of what! For Honeymoon! This is not right. If you allow the silent majority to wake up and bounced, the result will be fearful. We have been played the fool here. We are not fools. After these two weeks you added on the curfew, if the Mosques and Churches are not opened, we will go to the streets and demonstrate.

“We will demonstrate for the entire world to know that you people are playing on our intelligence. We are not fools. So I want to pass this message to President Bio, the head of the Paopa government to say it is high time you re-open the Mosques and Churches. It’s not because we are afraid of you why we have not come out to protests. It is because we are afraid of what would happen. There are some people who are in the corners who are planning to do other things to wreak havoc. We are religious people but we do not want other things to happen and they blame the religious people for starting it. That is the only reason. It is not because we are afraid of you arresting us. We are not afraid of your arrest,” Sheikh Abdul Salam warned.

Source: The Organiser