By: Jeff Cooper

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
July 25, 2006


Munnah Sieh, Liberia Police Director’s warning against the wearing of veil in Liberia by Muslim women is outrageous, dangerous, and must be condemned by every well-meaning Liberian.

According to The Inquirer, an independent newspaper, the country’s Police boss issued the warning on July 20, 2006 during a local radio talk show program. The paper said the Police boss’s remark was in reference to alleged possible terrorists activities by certain individuals she fell short to name but instead issued a warning “against wearing veil when moving on the streets and other public places in the country”.

Unless it is dealt with expeditiously, a warning of this magnitude from the head of a law enforcement agency is very troubling because it poses serious economic and diplomatic repercussions besides its discriminatory and divisive nature. In deed, Ms. Sieh’s warning has the propensity to threaten our young fledgling democracy. It is, in my opinion, inimical to our democratic culture and an outright embarrassment to the people of Liberia and Africa’s first female head of state, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

It is no gainsaying that much has also been revealed about Munnah Sieh’s character and her knowledge of Islamic faith. Further, her inference that Muslim women wear veil because their husbands are jealous shows that this Police chief lacks the rudimentary cultural knowledge of the Islamic faith. This kind of official utterance might constitute a case of ignorance breeding intolerance. Let me point out here for the police chief that if our Christian women have difficulty obeying certain spiritual injunctions (example, I Corinthians 11:5-6) but the Muslim women find it easy and much more profitable it is stupid and irrational to link them to terrorism simply because they are living and protecting their bodies in accordance with their faith.

As a journalist, I cannot recall at any point in national life when our national security was compromised by the wearing of veil by Muslim women. The police should worry about hundreds of thousands of former combatants in the 14 years long war now roaming the length and breadth of Liberia rather than the using tax payers talk about how Muslim women should dress in public. Perhaps if that is not enough worry for the Liberia National Police, keeping an eye closely on former rebels and children and women killers like Prince Johnson, Adulphus Dolo, Saah Gbollie, and the likes now masquerading as “senators and elected representatives” and others like Thomas J Woiwuyu, Alhaji Kromah, George Bolley, as well as other profiteers of the 14 years war should be enough work. Otherwise, let Munnah Sieh shot up.

The Government of the Republic of Liberia should not waste any further time in disassociating itself from this uncalled for divisive utterance. It must condemn in no uncertain terms this discriminatory and unguarded utterance by one of its highest ranking officials. The damage done to Liberia’s image abroad, especially in the Islamic world may not be known right now but it should not be ignored either. Ms. Munnah Sieh’s irresponsible remark needs to be retracted. She must be made to apologize to the Muslim women of Liberia in particular and the nation as a whole. She must be removed to set precedence for those who might want to hatch religious intolerance in Liberia.

Jeff Cooper is a freelance journalist and currently a student the University of Minnesota.
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© 2006 by The Perspective

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