The Federation of Muslim Councils Ghana (FMC) has noted with satisfaction that His Excellency, President John Dramani Mahama has for some time now been donating quantities of rice and sugar to key Muslim organizations across the country for Ramadan fast.
The FMC recalls similar donations by the President in recent past to mark other Muslim festivities like Idul Fitr and Idul Adha and even the Hajj pilgrimage. Certainly, these token donations would go a long way to impact lives among Muslims in the country.
Our expression of gratitude to the countries leaderships in the past and today is one of the most fundamental aspects of the Islamic religion. The Holy Qur’an abounds with lessons on gratitude and thankfulness. In Chapter 4 of the Quran, God asks us a simple question: “Why should God make you suffer torment if you are thankful and believe in Him? God always rewards gratitude and He knows everything” (Quran, 4:147). In Chapter 14 of the Holy Book, God declares, “If you are thankful I will add more (favors) unto you ……” (Quran, 14:7).
As the umbrella body of Muslims in Ghana, and on behalf of the recipient organizations, the FMC would like to express its appreciation to H.E. the President for the kind gesture.
It is the hope of the FMC, however, that His Excellency would not restrict his kind gestures to only provision of food items for Ramadan fast, Idul Fitr and Idul Adha, and tickets for Hajj pilgrimage; he is also expected to uphold his commitment to promoting peaceful co-existence among the various faiths in Ghana, as contained in his March 5th , 2015 directive to “ the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) to join the National Peace Council in initiating a dialogue to foster an amicable understanding of how to operationalise Article 21 (1) of our Constitution” (see Daily Graphic , Monday , March 9, 2015 , p.26: [President Mahama’s 58th Independence Day Parade address (paragraph 13)])
Even though the President’s directive prompted the National Peace Council to organize a two-day National Stakeholders’ Forum on Religious Tolerance and Freedom in Ghana , nothing much seem to have come out beyond the ten-point communiqué reached and issued at the end of the forum.
For instance, the first three of the agreements of the communiqué provide:
- That in order to provide a platform for continuous dialogue, an independent inter-religious body shall be set up to work closely with the NPC.
- That GES shall provide a policy framework for the creation of an acceptable dress code and the use of religious symbols in schools taking into consideration the legitimate concerns of interested religious groups.
- That GES shall oversee the formation of inter-religious Chaplaincy Boards in schools to create the platform for the exercise of freedom of religion and freedom of worship.”
Both the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service (GES), the agency in charge of pre-tertiary education, participated fully in the forum held at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Accra.
Three months into the forum and just two-and-a-half months away from reopening of senior secondary schools , nothing of the objectives referred to above seem to be in sight , to wit: (i) setting up of an independent inter-religious body as a platform for continued dialogue among stakeholders; (ii) provision of a policy framework (by the GES) for the creation of an acceptable dress code and the use of religious symbols in schools ; and (iii) formation of an inter-religious Chaplaincy Boards in schools (again by the GES) to create the platform for the exercise of freedom of religion and freedom of worship. Neither is the public aware of what blueprint the National Peace Council and NCCE have jointly fashioned out for operationalisation of Article 21 (1) of our Constitution as directed by the President.
Our worry is that the absence of a policy or guideline on dress and worship in pre-tertiary educational institutions may lead to arbitrariness on the part of heads of schools and, once again, needlessly result in tension between Muslim students and school heads, especially in Government-Assisted Mission Schools in country.
The FMC is, therefore, urging the President to spare no effort in ensuring that the National Peace Council, NCCE and Ministry of Education expedite action in order that the country is not thrown into another avoidable tension over religious rights. Peace is precious!
Hajj Muhammad Kpakpo Addo
Tel: 0246-247722, 0277-403357, 0244-620236
E-mail: [email protected]
Office: No. 230/5, Kotopon Street, Off Bubiashie-Ola Balm Road, Accra
General Secretary and
EANFOWORLD FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
244 370345/ 0264370345/0208844791
[email protected]/[email protected]
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