A leading human rights campaigner and former Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Cllr. Jerome Verdier has become one of the latest persons to hit out at the proposed bills emanating from Senator Edwin Melvin Snowe Jr of Bomi County for the legislation of three holidays that will be set aside in accordance with Islamic practice in the country, terming the move as childish, parochial and selfish.
“Our Muslim brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, relatives and colleagues have enjoyed their freedom without restrictions in a peaceful atmosphere recognized by all. Some Christians join and celebrate with them without any form of imposition, as Hon Edwin Snowe is suggesting. Neither the state nor the society at large have made any undertakings, by law or otherwise, to curtail these rights of our Islamic compatriots”, Mr. Verdier said in an article captioned “CHILDISH, SELF-SERVING, AND PAROCHIAL”, sent to The Analyst recently.
Cllr. Verdier said the country at present was inherited as it is and over the years it has peacefully co-existed that way up to present and all of the sudden for someone to begin to what he called “to stroke religious sentiments and emotions for political, populist or financial gains is dangerous and childish, parochial and foolish”.
In what seems to be using religion or politics to derail from the real issues that matter in the national development, Mr Verdier called out what he sees as the life styles of President George Manneh Weah and Senator Snowe that are negatively impacting on governance in the country when he said, “We know President Weah flies a private jet and is a converted Muslim, but the source of that luxury remains clouded in mystery as his people waddle in misery and poverty.
“We also know that Hon Snowe flies a private jet owned by “a friend”. Is it a fact or fiction, bribery or gift?”
Cllr Verdier said for whatever motive is behind Senator Snowe interest in his proposed legislation, he sees an inclination on the part of the Bomi County Senator of wishing to impose the will of a minority on the rest of the majority of the Liberian people.
“Muslims accounted for less than eleven percent (11%) of the Liberian population in the last national population and demographic census. How dare Hon Snowe expose his inclinations in such a bold fashion when the legislature seems to lose in prioritizing its legislative agendas, especially when entering another budgetary cycle without a Budget Performance Report of the prior process in keeping with the law”, he said.
Providing an alternative route to accord the Muslims some sort of legislation to support a free celebration without affecting their jobs at workplaces, Cllr Verdier has this to say:
“The only thing I may suggest concerning Muslim holidays (I can even propose legislation if that will help Hon Snowe) is that a law is passed that recognizes their religious holidays and thereby entitle them to days (or periods) of the job without being penalized during the festive season.”
It can be recalled that recently Senator Snowe proposed three bills at the level of the senate , titled, “An Act Making Easter Monday a Public Holiday”, “An Act Making Eid al-Adha (Abraham’s Day) a public Holiday”, and “An Act Making Eid al-Fitr (End of the Holy Month of Ramadan, the Festival of Breaking Fast) a Public Holiday. His move has so far generated a lot of criticism from the public especially the Christian community, claiming it was against their generally held belief that Liberia was founded on Christian principle.
Mr. Snowe has since come out to defend himself against what he called “threats” and that he will go on pushing the bills among his colleagues.