Former First Lady Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings has taken a swipe at President John Mahama for threatening to sanction school heads who do not allow Muslim students to observe in full their religious practices in schools.
The President, in his State of the Nation Address to Parliament, directed heads of mission schools to allow Muslim students to practice their religious beliefs and warned that heads who flouted the orders would be sanctioned.
However, the former First Lady and wife of National Democratic Congress (NDC) founder, President Jerry John Rawlings, maintained that the pronouncement by the President was highly unnecessary.
Addressing a forum in Sunyani on Wednesday organised by two NGOs – Community Organisation Bureau Network of Ghana (COBNOG) and Developing Women Mobilisation (DWM) – Nana Konadu said what the President spoke about was nothing new, as students from different religious backgrounds had been attending school functions together since time immemorial and therefore did not warrant a presidential fiat to change the status quo. ‘I think the President is opening himself for huge criticism,’ she stated, adding, ‘It brings the status of the Presidency down.’
Citing her family as an example, the former First Lady, who is the leader and founder of the breakaway National Democratic Party (NDP), said her auntie married a Muslim man and had children who were all Muslims.
She said though her cousins were Muslims, they all attended the same public school and school functions together and did not see anything wrong with that.
She stated for instance that ‘if one does not like what Catholics do, you don’t have to attend their schools,’ adding, ‘If you want to send your child to a certain school, you conform to what the school is doing.’
Simplifying the issue, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings explained: ‘If you want to join the military, there are certain rules and regulations that you need to follow.
In the same way, if you want to join the medical profession, there are certain dos and don’ts you need to comply with.
‘You can’t be a military officer and refuse to wear their boots. And your father cannot go there and warn the military high command that they should allow you to wear sandals because that is what you wear.’
The former First Lady warned that the directive by the President was a potential threat to discipline in Ghanaian schools.
Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Ghana has asked heads of Catholic schools in the country not to be intimidated by the President’s directives, urging them to stick to the normal practices in their schools.
However, the Ghana Muslim Students Association (GMSA) has notified all Muslim students in all institutions to obey the directive of the President.
‘None of our members should go for any devotion, be it morning or whatsoever,’ they noted.
The group also directed all Muslim female nurses and other professionals to wear the Hijab (veil) to work without any fear.
FROM Fred Tettey Alarti-Amoako, Abesim
Email: [email protected]
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