The constitution provides every person the right to practice any religion, as long as doing so does not impinge on the rights of others or on the national interest. The constitution prohibits religious discrimination, the establishment of a state religion, and religiously-based political parties. President Yahya Jammeh declared the country an Islamic state on December 10, stating the lives of Christians would not be affected. Opposition parties condemned the declaration of an Islamic state. The government arrested and detained three imams without trial or explanation; all three imams were in custody at the end of the year. Police arrested a blogger for posting a caricature of the Prophet Muhammed with a little girl sitting on his lap. The accused – who said police forced his confession – was released on bail, and his case was subsequently dismissed. The Supreme Islamic Council (SIC), closely allied with the government, declared the Ahmadiyya Muslim community a “non-Muslim Community” and banned the burial of Ahmadi Muslims in Muslim cemeteries. Ahmadis were denied access to state media to publicize their religious activities.
In Tallinding village, Sunni Muslims banned Ahmadi Muslims from burying their dead at Muslim cemeteries and demanded the excavation of an Ahmadi body. The Ahmadiyya leadership issued a statement reacting to the SIC’s statement and said the issue had the potential to create civil strife. The Interfaith Group for Dialogue and Peace, composed of representatives from the Muslim, Christian, and Bahai communities, met regularly to discuss matters of mutual concern, such as religious freedom and the need for peaceful coexistence.
The U.S. embassy hosted a series of iftars with government and local officials and religious leaders, during which participants emphasized a message of religious freedom and tolerance.