African News

Senegal: President comments spark protest

Christian youth took to the streets in Dakar expressing anger over ”insulting” comment Senegalese president, Abdoulie Wade made about Jesus Christ.
The predominantly youth mob were angered by the president’s comment, earlier on Tuesday, making unpalatable comparisons between his highly controversial monument of the Renaissance and the cross. The octogenarian Senegalese leader who appears to enjoy floating in a sea of controversies of late was defending the construction of the multi-million dollar monument that has come under constant attack by Muslim clerics in the country who do not appear to be relenting.
The remarks
He told a gathering at a national teachers conference in Dakar that while Catholics pray to someone who is not God, no one talks about that, yet they continue to attack his monument which, he maintains, is purely meant to preserve the cultural heritage of the continent of Africa. “They pray to a man, Jesus Christ, someone who is not a God. People do not find anything to tell them, nobody makes any objection, including myself,” the president, said amid rapturous applause from a clearly unsuspicious audience.
Apparently, the violence erupted after the archbishop of Dakar; Cardinal Theodor Adrein Sarr accused the president of insulting the country’s Christians, as part of his New Year message. The archbishop described President Abdoulaye Wade’s statement as “damaging” for Christians.
He added it was “scandalous and intolerable that the divinity of Jesus Christ, heart of our faith, is called into question and ridiculed by the highest authority of the state.” Television pictures showed the angry youth shortly after that battling with security forces who reportedly fired tear gas as the youth threw rocks on them outside Dakar cathedral.
Later in the evening, the presidential side embarked on a damage limitation spree. Senior minister of state, Karim Wade, son of the Senegalese president, emerged from State House to convey a message to waiting pressmen from his father, whom he said deeply, regretted his utterances and called for understanding between Muslims and Christians. Wade said his father acknowledged with regret the fact that his remark has caused such scars. This is not the first time the president is making such controversial religious statement. Just about last month, Wade impliedly referred to Senegalese Christians as ingrates, accusing them of never wanting to acknowledge his numerous supports for them. That remark attracted a damning response from a Dakar based priest, Andrew Latir, who said that if Senegalese Christians were to be grateful to any person; it is the Senegalese people, and not an individual. President Wade’s latest comment have so far received no less attention as it has attracted condemnation from across the entire nation, more so in fact from Muslim religious leaders. In a series of hastily arranged press conferences across the country, a number of independent minded religious leaders denounced the president’s remark against Christians. ”President Abdoulie Wade knows nothing in religion. He can talk about politics, but he must leave religion for religious scholars,” one scholar was quoted as saying. Such irresponsible statement by a head of state, he added, can spark religious unrest in the country. The president’s remark has sparked what is rarely an occurrence in Senegal, inter-religious riots. Many fear that this might degenerate into more serious problems, considering the unspoken radicalised nature of some followers of the largest Muslim sect in the country, the Mourid, to which the Senegalese president himself belongs.

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