Haj Saeed Jallo
The coalition of Muslim organizations Ghana (COMOG) has called on all political parties contesting this year’s elections to come out with a comprehensive policy on how to bring to rest the human right violations of Muslim students and female workers in the various institutions in the country. This call was made at a press conference held by the coalition today, on political parties’ position on pertinent issues affecting the Muslim community of Ghana.
According to Hajj Abdul Manan Abdul Rahman, general secretary of the coalition who addressed the conference Ghana is a country known for its unity in diversity where people of different religious and ethnic leanings live in peace, harmony and mutual understanding, however this is not always true since a section of the populace are not enjoying the full right as citizens of the country.
“Ghana is often touted as a nation in which different religious and ethnic groups live in peace, harmony, mutual respect and mutual understanding. We share this glowing tribute. But at the same time, it is our responsibility to point out that the respect and understanding has not always been mutual. The harmony has, over the decades been achieved at an unbearable cost to the freedom and desire of Muslims to practice their faith and to manifest such practice wherever they find themselves, as guaranteed in our constitution. “The statement read.
“While we are grateful to the Almighty Allah for the peace we enjoy, the lesson we must learn from some parts of the world is that, peaceful and harmonious co-existence is difficult to sustain in an environment where discrimination in any form or shape, is entrenched and systemic.” It went on.
Haj Abdul Manan bemoaned the situation where parents as well as young Muslims have over the decades been forced to choose between quality education and their Islamic faith and identity. Others who have toiled to educate themselves and gained valuable knowledge have been forced to choose between their Islamic faith and identity and service to the nation they love. He mentioned state institutions such as public second cycle schools, hospitals and other health institutions as the worst culprits in denying Muslims their fundamental rights to worship and the expression of their Islamic identity.
“It is important to understand that this blatant disregard for the freedom of worship and expression of religious beliefs as enshrined in our constitution complicates efforts at convincing some Muslim parents to encourage the education of their wards, especially females, to the highest level. Many Muslim parents, when faced with the choice of secular education and the risk of loss of identity and faith through compulsory church services in second cycle institutions would be more inclined to protecting the faith of their children even at the cost of educating them.”
The statement went ahead to allude to the refusal of state institutions to heed to the directive of the president which called on them to respect the law by allowing Muslims to enjoy their right and freedom to worship and manifest their religious beliefs.
It also indicated that the presidential directive was not comprehensive enough since it covered only state institutions whilst the private ones have the leeway to trample on the right of these students and women.
“We believe that the real change will come with constant inter-religious dialogue, education and a concerted effort on the part of the government of the day to enforce relevant provisions of the constitution of Ghana on the rights and freedoms of people of all religious persuasions. This is why COMOG insists that all political parties contesting this year’s election publicly state what measures they will put in place to achieve this, when given the mandate to rule the country.” It added.
Readers would recall a peaceful demonstration that was held by a group in the western region that called itself the Muslim Right Front where the office of the president through the Western Regional Minister was handed a petition that called on the President to intervene on issues of human right violations of Muslim students and women in the nation’s public and private institutions.
This demonstration elicited the swift response from the Ministries of Communications, Education, Health and the President himself on the floor of parliament.
Meanwhile for other aspect of today’s press conference www.mytawheedonline has published the full text here.