General News of Sunday, 8 March 2015
The Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana and Chairman of the Christian Council Professor Emmanuel Martey has accused the Mahama administration of stoking a non-existent “war” between Christians and Muslims to divert attention from the worsening power crisis [dumsor].
“Let me say it here and now. If there are any reporters – you see I’m the chairman of the Christian council, I’ve not spoken because a wise person does not speak fast – you study all the situations before you speak. There is no fight between Christians and Muslims in this country, there is no war between Christian and Muslims in this country.
“If there is a seeming war, some people have created it and it’s the politicians. The politicians have created this to divert attention from the problems in this country. Look the whole of last week, on the radio, everywhere, people were not talking about ‘dumsor’: they were talking about Christians and Muslims.
“This is the strategy of the politician to divert attention so that the main problems of the country, we forget it, but let me tell you, we’ll not forget it. We’ll keep on saying: ‘Fix the ‘dumsor’ now now now.’ Listen, Ghana is not a big country to fix this problem. [In] four months you can solve it; at most [in] six months…If I were in charge, within three months I will solve the problem…look at the loans we are taking, this is a crisis, why can’t we use the loans to fix it? Then you tell us you will fix it, when?” Prof Martey wondered.
Various Christian and Muslim groups have been involved in recriminations concerning rights of Muslim students in missionary schools as well as the right of Muslim girls and women to wear their hijabs at workplaces following a directive and threat from the Government, through the Minister of Communication that heads of schools or institutions who infringe on the rights of Muslims will be sanctioned.
The Government’s threat was issued barely hours after Muslims in the Western region went on a demonstration in the middle of last month to protest against “discrimination” against them.
Various Muslim groups in the country recently, jointly issued a statement expressing qualms about the “uncompromising” pronouncements made by some Christian groups concerning the raging debate over religious rights in schools and workplaces, particularly as regards Muslims in mission schools.
The statement, signed on behalf of the Chief Imam by Sheikh Armiyawo Shaibu and Sheikh Dr. Amin Bonsu said the obdurate stance taken by the Christian Council, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, the Ghana Education Service (GES) and the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), regarding the Muslim community’s demand for freedom of worship in educational institutions and workplaces in Ghana, could undermine the peace and harmonious coexistence between the two faiths in the country.
The Catholic Bishops Conference had earlier issued a statement asking heads of all its mission schools to go ahead and enforce rules and regulations that require that all students attend mass, irrespective of their faith, so far as they have enrolled in those schools.
The Ghana Education Service also issued a statement asking all schools to ensure that all students, irrespective of religion, attend morning devotions.
The Christian Council also took exception to what it considered as a one-sided statement issued by the Government since it said Christian students also suffer similar discrimination in Muslim schools across the country.
These developments, according to the Muslim groups which include: the office of Alhlusssunna Wal’jama’a, Office of Ahmaddiya muslim mission, Office of Ghana muslim mission, Office of Shia muslim community, National council of muslim chiefs, Office of the federation of muslim womens’ associations in Ghana, Ghana muslim students’ association and the Office of the Chief Imam, could plunge the country into religious disarray.
Preaching to the Akyem Old Tafo Grace congregation in the Eastern region on Sunday, Prof Martey said both the Communication Minister and Education Ministry were “wrong” to have jumped to the public with their “threatening” comments.
“They were wrong. If you are a leader, when such a fight comes, you don’t speak in public like that. We are talking about religion…,” he cautioned.
“Look,” he said: “The Ghanaian Christians and Ghanaian Muslims are capable of solving this problem so politicians don’t muddy the waters.”
In his view, President Mahama also jumped the gun on the matter by issuing public directives on the controversy.
“His Excellency spoke too early. It’s unfortunate that he brought this case to the state of the nation address. It was wrong. It was wrong also to talk on the Independence Day about a war which is not there, about a tension which is not there. There is no tension between Christians and Muslims. There’s no war between Christians and Muslims. There is no war.
“Don’t divert our attention, don’t destroy our country. You are there to fix our problems; you are there to fix our problems, don’t add more problems.
“When we say leadership in a country, if you are a leader, you solve problems, if you are leader you are there to solve problems…you don’t create more problems…” Prof Martey added.