Draft new constitution: Religious challenge the principle of secularism

While the referendum scheduled for this Sunday has been postponed indefinitely, the draft new Constitution is controversial. This time, it is the religious who contest the principle of secularism in Mali.

After the controversy around the question of languages, this time it is the turn of secularism to be called into question by certain Muslim clerics. The draft new constitution affirms that Mali is an “independent, sovereign, unitary, indivisible, secular and social democratic republic”.

But some religious leaders do not agree with this principle of secularism. In recent weeks, many imams have reserved their Friday sermons for secularism and called on Muslim worshipers to fiercely oppose them. While the referendum scheduled for this Sunday has been postponed indefinitely, the Malian League of Imams has asked the government to simply remove the word “secularism” from the draft new Constitution and replace it with “Multi-confessional State”.

For many religious, it is this principle of secularism that has led Mali into this politico-socio-security situation because the Malian leaders hide behind this secular trick to cloister the religion or religions.

With this “multi-confessional state” concept, it is a state where the different denominations share management, as in the case of Lebanon or Nigeria where when the president is Christian, the prime minister must be Muslim and vice versa. Ditto for the deputies who are divided by quota between the different confessions: Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, Maronites.

According to Jacques Dembélé, researcher at the University of Social Sciences and Management of Bamako “one cannot be at the service of God and the world. You just have to choose your camp. Either we are in the mosque and the church, or we are in the management of the affairs of the world”.

“The Malian faithful must begin to question the sincerity of their religious leaders. One cannot be an imam or a pastor and aspire to political management. The two do not rhyme”.

The researcher Jacques Dembélé took the example of the case of Lebanon. In Lebanon, there had been a civil war which lasted from 1975 to 1990 with upheavals until our days. “Is this what we want from Mali? The other case is Lebanon’s neighbor, Syria. Who is also in trouble because of multi-confessionalism? All the States which have several denominations and which want peace have opted for secularism: Russia, China, several African States. The State of Mali must take responsibility”decides our researcher.

Ousmane Mahamane

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Deborah Acker

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