- Title: Gambia's Christian converts seek shelter amid hostilities
- Date: 9th November 2018
- Summary: SEREKUNDA, GAMBIA (RECENT) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF CHOIR SINGING IN CHURCH CHURCHGOERS LISTENING TO CHOIR SYNTHESISER PLAYER WOMAN PRAYING
- Embargoed: 23rd November 2018 14:26
- Keywords: Christian converts Muslims praying shelter for Christians choir singing praying in church hostility from families Islam in Serekunda changing faith
- Location: SEREKUNDA, BRIKAMA AND TUJERENG, GAMBIA / DAKAR, SENEGAL
- City: SEREKUNDA, BRIKAMA AND TUJERENG, GAMBIA / DAKAR, SENEGAL
- Country: Gambia
- Topics: Religion/Belief,Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA00195SAK47
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Christian convert Mariama Jobarteh was cast out of her family when she decided to leave the Muslim faith, forced to move from shelter to shelter in Gambia's capital.
She's one of a number of ex-Muslims who say they have been met with hostility since changing religions, ostracised from their communities and left to fend for themselves.
"Because now I be a Christian I decided to give them everything. I don't go to the mosque again so they just get angry about that. They're mocking me and they even want to kill me. Because sometimes they send some boys to harass me on the way, to fight me. So I cannot even have a place to sleep," Jobarteh said.
Gambia is predominately Muslim, with around 90 percent of its population following Islam. The country's Christian minority is estimated to be between 5-9 percent.
Freedom of religion is enshrined in the law and Gambian President Adama Barrow has actively promoted tolerance during meetings with religious leaders.
Yet while friendships and marriages amongst Muslims and Christians are not uncommon, converting from Islam to Christianity is at times met with hostility, especially from families.
"In general, the religious leaders and traditional Muslims and Christians have a rhetoric that is very responsible in respect of diversity," said Imam Ahmadou Makhtar Kante.
"But of course, this person (convert) will have to manage his relationship with his family. And there everything depends on the family: if it's a very tolerant family there will not be too much trouble; if it's a conservative family there can be problems," he added.
In support of converts, the Christian Care Foundation The Gambia is planning to build a centre to house ex-Muslims who have converted to the faith. The foundation, led by protestant evangelists, says it knows of at least 40 cases where Christians have been persecuted after leaving Islam.
"This place is going to be their permanent home, where they will be established. Like I have my family, I go to work and come back and then take care of my family," said the foundation's Moses Jassey.
A seaside plot in the village of Tujereng has already been ear-marked to build the sanctuary. The centre will have 10 rooms for families as well as a chapel, but plans to expand to house at least 100 converts in the future.
It will also offer vocational education to Christians, such as training to become a carpenter.
Building of the centre is expected to start in early 2019.
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