Gambian President Yahya Jammeh is one of the world's most quixotic dictators, a man who has ruled his tiny sliver of a nation for two decades with an iron fist, an extensive network of secret police and a seemingly endless stream of outrageous proclamations.
His latest inflammatory remarks came last week at a rally in the town of Farafeni. According to Vice News, which received a translation of Jammeh's speech, delivered in the region's Wolof language, Jammeh sounded a dire warning to homosexuals living in his country.
"If you do it [in Gambia] I will slit your throat," Jammeh said. "If you are a man and want to marry another man in this country and we catch you, no one will ever set eyes on you again, and no white person can do anything about it."
The Gambian leader is notorious for his homophobic views and, judging from his comments here, seems undeterred by recent condemnation from the international community. Last year, the European Union cut aid to the West African nation over its woeful human rights record, which included the country's introduction in October of a tough anti-homosexuality law that could lead to life sentences in prison.
Jammeh, for his part, has made no secret of his disapproval of homosexuality. He's not alone, particularly on the African continent, but his vitriol stands him apart.
In 2008, he said he would "cut off the head" of gays found in his country. Despite the outrage those comments generated, Jammeh, who styles himself as a "sheikh professor," made this bigoted, bizarre statement in 2013:
Homosexuality is anti-god, anti-human, and anti-civilization. Homosexuals are not welcome in the Gambia. If we catch you, you will regret why you are born. I have buffaloes from South Africa and Brazil and they never date each other. We are ready to eat grass but we will not compromise on this. Allowing homosexuality means allowing satanic rights. We will not allow gays here.
What the "dating" habits of cattle from different nations have to do with homosexuals is anyone's guess, but the rhetoric is in keeping with Jammeh's eccentricities. He has claimed in the past to have pioneered a cure for AIDS and is supposedly fearful of sorcerers.
In December, Jammeh survived a botched coup attempt; among the conspirators were a handful of U.S. nationals. Since then, rights groups have documented an uptick in abuses in the aftermath of the putsch's failure. Jammeh himself came to power with a coup in 1994.
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