The constitution provides for the freedom of religious choice, as long as doing so does not impinge on the rights of others or the national interest. It prohibits religious discrimination, establishment of a state religion, and formation of political parties based on religious affiliation. President Adama Barrow’s announcement in July of the nonprofit Barrow Youth Movement for Development’s plan to build 60 mosques was criticized by many observers for blurring the lines of separation between state and religion and showing preference of one religion over the others. On December 6, the Office of the President announced the transfer of the religious affairs portfolio to the Ministry of Lands and Regional Affairs from the Office of the President. On several occasions, President Barrow stressed the need for continued religious freedom and tolerance. In a meeting with the Roman Catholic Bishop of Banjul, President Barrow called on religious leaders to continue to “preach peace, good citizenship, and unity.”
Interfaith marriage remained common and accepted, according to religious leaders. There continued to be tensions between the majority Sunni Muslim community and the minority Ahmadiyya Muslim community. The Supreme Islamic Council (SIC), a religious council tasked with providing Islamic religious guidance, continued to state the Ahmadiyya community did not belong to Islam, and it did not include members of the community in its events and activities. The government largely did not become involved in the disagreement between the two communities. The Ahmadiyya International Association of Architects and Engineers met with President Barrow in August to discuss the group’s plans to expand its humanitarian work in the country.
The embassy expanded outreach and decentralized its annual iftar dinner, holding iftars throughout the country in an effort to meet directly with religious leaders from around the country and highlight the message of continued peace and religious harmony.