Senegal’s Laity Council Demands “public apology” from Imam Over “blasphemous remarks”

Fr. Alphonse Birame Ndour (left), episcopal vicar in charge of interreligious dialogue, Philippe Abraham Birane Tine (center), CNL President and Fr. Sébastien Mamadou Diouf (right), national coordinator of the Apostolate of the Laity, at the press conference on 01 March 2022. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The leadership of Senegal’s National Laity Council (CNL) has demanded a “public apology” from a Muslim leader, Imam Serigne Lamine Sall, over his “blasphemous and offensive remarks” made on a private TV channel about the Catholic faith.

On February 24, Imam Lamine Sall who was a guest on Walfadjri TV reportedly said, “Who can hear, every Sunday, people who say that God has a son, they are Catholics, they are not believers.”

He added: “If we can accept that unbelievers call for prayer every Sunday and have the right to do so, we can accept the Freemasons because it's the same.”

In a Monday, February 28 letter addressed to Senegal’s Interior Ministry that manages places of worship and the Council for the Regulation of Broadcasting (CNRA), CNL officials condemn the “blasphemous and offensive remarks made against the national Catholic community and, beyond during the program Diné Ak Jamono of Thursday, 24 February 2022.”

“Mr. Sall, in his remarks, equated our religion with Freemasonry, and made blasphemous remarks about our faith. He has purely and simply attacked the foundations of our belief,” CNL officials further say in the statement shared with ACI Africa.


Members of the Laity council in Senegal further say, “The Church, through our voice, draws the attention of the Council for the Regulation of Broadcasting (CNRA) and demands a public apology from Imam Serigne Lamine Sall, commensurate with the offenses he has committed against the Catholic community.”

“The same demands are addressed to Walfadrji TV, which served as a medium to convey this infuriating message, as well as to the host of the day, who did not bother to call his guest to order, to inform him that he was undermining the religion of others,” CNL members say in the February 28 letter.

On February 26, CNRA officials gave formal notice to Walfadjri TV, asking the media entity to take appropriate measures to put a definitive end to such breaches and to observe a strict application of the regulations. 

CNRA leadership also demanded that Walfadjri TV make a public apology to the Catholic community and the Senegalese people during the next edition of the offending program or face sanctions.

Following the outcry over his remarks, Imam Lamine Sall sent an audio message apologizing for his remarks.

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In the audio recording circulated February 27, the Muslim leader explained that he had no intention to “disrespect the Catholic community.”  

In a press release on the same day, the management of Walfadjri TV apologized and pledged to do “everything possible to avoid such abuses in the future.”

Addressing journalists at a press conference Tuesday, March 1, CNL President, Philippe Abraham Birane Tine, said, “The discriminatory, outrageous, aggressive and separatist comments made by Imam Lamine Sall against the Catholic community during the program ‘Diiné Ak Diamono’ reinforce our certainty that the foundations of our nation are in danger and that its unity is more than ever threatened by people who trample on our fundamental charter.”

“These remarks are inadmissible and can only be justified by the contempt, indecency and ignorance of a person who has little concern for preserving the values of 'living together' which have enabled us to build and consolidate our Senegalese nation,” Mr. Birane Tine added.

He continued, “The Catholic Church draws the attention of the State of Senegal and asks for sanctions against those guilty of such crimes.”


The CNL leadership calls on President Macky Sall to “do everything possible to ensure that, from now on, the culprits of such crimes are identified and punished.”

“Mr. President of the Republic, in the face of such abuses, we now demand that the competent state services, whose professionalism no longer needs to be demonstrated, be referred to without delay,” CNL officials say in their February 28 statement.

CNL leadership also invites media managers and all those involved in the field of information and communication to be more “vigilant in order to contribute to the respect of the rules of pluralism, ethics and deontology, which are the only guarantees of a Senegal of all and for all.”

CNL in Senegal is an umbrella body for all Catholic Action associations and movements. It was set up by the Catholic Bishops in Senegal in April 2008.

A predominantly Muslim nation, Senegal has around 300,000 Catholics representing 3.6 percent of the population, according to 2019 statistics.

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Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.