Popular Gambian Imam goes missingBy BABOUCARR CEESAY in Banjul | Saturday, August 18 2012 at 16:01
The family of Gambia's most celebrated Imam Ba Kawsu Fofana has appealed for information on his whereabouts after he was forcibly picked by intelligence agents Tuesday.
The Imam's brother Omar Fafana told local media that National Intelligence Agency operatives stormed the cleric's house during prayers and demanded he follow them.
The agents allegedly said that Ba Kawsu was wanted for questioning at NIA headquarters.
Mr Omar quoted his Imam brother as pleading with the spies to allow him to "complete my worshiping and [I will] later report for questioning after the Eid el Fitr fetes," but the officers insisted he go with them.
"Ba Kawsu had to accept and appealed to the NIA men to let him enter his room. When Imam entered his room he was not seen again. We don't know where he went," said Mr Omar.
The spy agency had the same night shut down a private radio station, Taranga FM.
The Imam had earlier been arrested in May for unknown reasons. He has been reporting to the NIA since.
The outspoken Imam, preacher and Islamic teacher returned from his two-week detention with an injured finger only to find that his daughter had died accidentally when a brick fell on her.
He claimed that he had been severely beaten and tortured in a dark room at the NIA's headquarters, and that this brutality had been filmed by the operatives.
They allegedly asked him why he was criticising President Yahya Jammeh.
Mr Jammeh's authoritarian regime has been faulted for having little regard for human rights.
The Imam in an earlier interview told this correspondent that he had no interest in politics and was only using the Holy Qur’an and the teaching of Prophet Muhammed to preach the message of truth to the people.
His interrogators asked him why he had described Mr Jammeh--the President of the entire nation--as 'Banjul Mansa' (king of Banjul), he said.
They also demanded he change his mode of preaching, which he said was similar to that of State House's Imam, Abdoulie Fatty.
He had earlier before his arrest condemned the comparison of President Jammeh with prophet Yahya by the State House Imam.
"How can you compare a prophet who in his infancy was invited by his elder brothers to play and he told them that he was not created for playing, to and adult leader who dances with women and young people?"
This description of the Gambian President is said not to have gone down well with some Islamic scholars, especially those close to him.
Imam Fofana, a presidential candidate at the 2010 Supreme Islamic Council congress, had several disagreements with the Council on his preaching and religious opinion, which led to his temporary banning from preaching at any Islamic gathering and media outlet in the Gambia.
He was later invited to the State House where President Jammeh and members of the Council were present. The President is said to have publicly told him: "Even my shoe is better than you".
His worried family say he is the breadwinner and also caters for hundreds of students and several adopted children.
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