Despite public condemnations, Bomi County Senator Edwin Melvin Snowe Jr. remains adamant and stated for the record that the introduction of his three Bills seeking religious holidays is not intended to bring him in conflict, or seek favor from any particular segment of the Liberian society.
“I have read and listened to all the sensational print, social media and radio spins regarding my patriotic endeavor to make our nation more inclusive and accommodating of its diversity by introducing three, very important legislations that I am sponsoring on the floor of the Liberian Senate,” Senator Snowe stated.
According to the Bomi County Senator, it is based on his patriotic conviction and responsibility as a Senator for all the people, based on his keen reading of Liberian history, including the proximate causes of the “recent baseless prolonged civil conflict.”
Senator Snwoe said: “I represent the majority as well as the minority. The introduction of these Bills represent first, my belief in equality and religious freedom as guaranteed by our Constitution and laws of our country, Liberia.”
He added that it is based on his belief and considered learning that God is a God of justice and fair play.
Consistent with the principles of freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the Liberian Constitution, Snowe made it known that those opposing these Bills have the right to call on their lawmakers to vote against them.
“However, as it stands, I will not, in good faith, withdraw these legislations. I will be on the floor of the Liberian Senate come Thursday, June 3rd, to ensure that these Bills are placed on the agenda and read on the floor of the Liberian Senate. I will not back down. I will not withdraw. I will stand for what I believe is right, based on our history, and the need for a wholesome functioning Liberia society, and One nation, under God with liberty and justice for all. “Might don’t make right” and all is in time.”
This lawmaker’s stance is in apparent reference to two renowned prelates who are in disagreement on attempts by Senator Snowe to push for the legislation of three religious holidays in Liberia.
In a social media post at the weekend, Senator Snowe declared: “This week, I will be introducing three landmarks legislations on the floor of the Liberian Senate. I hereby call on my colleagues in the legislature as well as the general public to give these legislations their fullest support for passage.”
He named them as “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.”
But Bishop John Allen Klayee of the Jubilee Praise and Worship Center differed via his Facebook page and accused the lawmaker of “been fighting the Church for long.”
Bishop Klayee added the Church is not campaigning for any holiday for which Senator Snowe wants to push for an act making Easter Monday a public holiday.
For his part, Bishop Gardea Johnson of the Restoration Baptist Church said, “Mr. Lawmaker, we do not need any holiday and nobody asked you for Easter’s holiday. That level of deception is unacceptable!!”
During the regime of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, then Senators Joyce Musu Freeman-Sumo of Montserrado County and John Ballout of Maryland County embarked on similar campaign to legislate a Muslim holiday but since then, such document has been lingering at the Capitol Building.
The debate for a Muslim holiday resurfaced after the National Chief Imam of Liberia, Sheikh Ali Krayee, on Thursday, May 13, reiterated his call on the Government for a Muslim holiday and emphasized that Liberia will never have peace until Muslims holiday is given.
Chief Sheikh Krayee, in his message to over hundreds of his Muslim brothers and sisters at the occasion making the celebration of the Eid (climax of the Holy month of Ramadan) in Monrovia, said they observed the day in Liberia with a heavy heart where the government is yet to grant them a national holiday.
Delivering his Eid-al-Fitr khutba at the Central Mosque on Benson Street in Monrovia, Chief Sheikh Krayee said it is hypocritical to call for peace in a state where Muslims live as second-class citizens. He also indicated that it is a complete hypocrisy for people to bring bags of rice to Muslims during Ramadan when they are refusing to meet the demand of Muslims. “Take the bags of rice and cows and give us a holiday,” he repeated.
He said the Muslim communities’ pressure on the Liberian state to give them a holiday will remain unbending until it happens, and they strongly believe it will be soon.
Chief Sheikh Krayee said: “We are painfully commemorating today’s end of Ramadan, knowing that our compatriots, the government in particular, have chosen to ignore our call for Islamic holiday in this country, when we speak it is as though we are noise makers or trouble makers.”