Gambia News Online: Scientologically speaking
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The purpose of this blog is not to cast aspersions on a religion that most people know every little about. Our purpose is to raise concern about the regime of Yaya Jammeh’s fray into the unknown, led by a band of inexperienced group of individuals who use Gambian Embassies abroad in the guise of courting foreign investors.
But before we do so, we’d like to say a word or two about the Church of Scientology that has recently co-sponsored a gathering in Washington DC in conjunction with Black History Month. Gambian citizens resident in Washington who were RSVPed to attend but later dis-invited when it was discovered that they belonged to a group of activists opposed to the tyrannical regime of Yaya Jammeh, the dictator who’d recently changed the name of his country to the Islamic Republic of The Gambia.
Scientology was recently ruled a religion in U.K. courts but in some parts of Germany, Scientology is banned. In the U.S., its status is unclear but it has gained a significant foothold among the Hollywood class with many big name stars like Tom Cruise, Issac Hayes and John Trivolta are claimed to be members of the Church of Scientology.
According to the Church’s literature, “Scientology is a religion that offers a precise path to a complete and certain understanding of one’s true spiritual nature…” It also teaches that “man is an immortal spiritual being” whose “experience extends well beyond a single lifetime.”
The Gambia’s 21-year dictatorial rule under one of Africa’s most brutal and corrupt has managed to sullied the image of a once respected democratic enclave in a sea of strong-man rule that prevailed in earlier years. As a result of the horrendous human rights record of Yaya Jammeh, development assistance from the European Union has been frozen and funds held in escrow until certain demands are met – demands relating to the continued tortures, forced exiles, disappearances and false imprisonments of dissidents and opponents, real and perceived.
The regime is essentially financially insolvent and thus schemes are being concocted, on the fly, in desperate attempts at looking for “prospective investors” to invest in a country that is at the bottom of the table of The World Bank’s “Doing Business” in Africa and around the world. In a country where the investment climate is not bad but hostile to foreign investors.
As we speak, there are two arbitration cases pending before the World Bank’s International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and one judgement against the regime involving a mining concession which they’ve asked the ICSID to review. Some of these unsavory characters who pose as government investment promoters have gone to the extent of adopting fictitious royal titles (like Prince Ebrahim) using the Embassy of The Gambia in Washington as cover with the intention of targeting the unsuspecting and gullible investors in the United States. Buyers beware.
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