The playing of music, dancing and drumming during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan has been banned in Gambia and for fear of being arrested, people are complying.
Ordinary citizens in the small west African country – whose president declared it an Islamic state in December – are being urged to report anyone seen engaging in the activities to authorities.
Police spokesperson, Lamin Njie told the AFP news agency that:
“People are complying with the police order banning drumming and dancing during the month of Ramadan and so far no one has been arrested by the police for violating it”.
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Specifically, the statement was released last week by Public Relations Officer of the Gambian Police, Lamin Njie warns against “drumming, music and dance”. The penalty for any one of these activities is apprehension by the police and prosecution.
The statement read:
“As the Muslim Ummah is observing the Holy Month of Ramadan, the Office of the Inspector General of Police in honour of the Holy Month is hereby informing the General Public that all ceremonies, festivities and programmes that involves drumming, music and dance during the day or at night are prohibited.
“All those engaged in the practice are therefore warned to desist from such acts otherwise they will be eventually apprehended and face the full force of the law without compromise. The Inspector General of Police is hereby advising the General Public to report any such persons or groups to the police as stern action will be taken against those found wanting of violations.”
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President Yahya Jammeh announced in December that the Gambia had become an Islamic state, but stressed that the rights of the Christian minority would be respected and that women would not be held to a dress code.
A few weeks later it emerged that female civil servants had been ordered to cover their hair at work, according to a leaked government memo, although the presidency subsequently announced the measure had been dropped.
President Jammeh, 50, a military officer and former wrestler has ruled the country with an iron fist since he seized power in a coup in 1994.