|Sheikh Muheideen Hydara|
The 80 year plus retired religious leader was arrested because he led his followers in prayers on a day the Gambian dictator has prohibited anyone from praying.
Since his arrest on Tuesday, he was being shuttled from one police station to another - a time honored tactic utilized by the regime - to intimidate the frail Muslim cleric into submission. When he refused to apologize neither to the dictator nor to the Islamic Council, he was transferred to another police station in appears to be a final attempt to "break the frail old man" as described by an eyewitness.
Sheikh Muheideen Hydara's hands-off relations with the Jammeh regime is legendary. He has refused to bow to the temptingly corrupting modus operandi of a regime that offers huge sums of bribe money to Supreme Islamic Council and Muslim Elders in exchange for their support, religious freedoms and independence. This was Jammeh's last chance to rein in the fiercely independent cleric who strongly believes in the principle of the separation of religion from the affairs of State, and he (Jammeh) failed miserably.
It is being reported that the Minister of Interior personally drove to the Yundum police to issue the lame excuse that the Gambian dictator was unaware of the cleric's traumatic predicament of the previous several days. In attempting to excuse the dictator who issued the Fatwa in the first instance, the Interior Minister is clearly attempting to distance themselves from a potentially explosive internal crisis that threatens the regime on the eve of the dictator's visit to Washington to attend the US - African Leaders Summit.
The Khalif was finally released on bail and released to the custody of his loved ones. The revered cleric is to report to the authorities next week after being in the hands of the regime three days.
The significance of the triumph of an 80-year old frail cleric over a vicious dictatorship is real and it sends a clear message to the rest of the country that it is time to openly and steadfastly defy an illegitimate, repressive, corrupt and morally bankrupt regime. It looks like it will take the religious community and not the political opposition to grab the bull by the horn and say enough is enough.