General News of Thursday, 5 October 2006
An Accra-based radion station - Joy FM - is reporting that it has obtained copies of videos seeking to propagate Islamic fundamentalism in Ghana. One of the videos show Al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, in a speech calling for non-Islamists to be wiped out.
Copies of the propaganda material are broadcast openly at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle here in Accra. The vendor, an African-Arab from Mali attracts sales by screening the videos and VCDs on a small table top kiosk.
In one of the videos, America’s and indeed the world’s most wanted man, Osama bin Laden is shown calling on all Muslims to rise up against the infidels or non-Muslims whom he describes in Arabic as Kafr.
Portions of the speech are translated in English subtitles on the bottom of the screen. Though the video is originally in Arabic, it is also available in Hausa, the predominant language used by most Muslims in Ghana.
The images of bin Laden are similar to those screened by BBC, CNN and other international news networks but the visuals are extensive and more detailed and show the training camps of Al-Qaeda in prewar Afghanistan. The vendor has VCDs of other Jihadis including the former head of Al-Qaeda cell in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Public interest in the video show picks up around late afternoon, but peaks around 5:30pm when most workers and students are on their way home.
The video vendor, who says he is from Mali, tells JOY NEWS he buys his goods from neighbouring Togo. For the vendor of such Jihadis propaganda, he might just be earning a decent living.
However, Dr Yao Gebe of the Legon Centre for International Affairs of the University of Ghana (UG) says it could be the beginning of a very disturbing menace. ‘‘Indeed, there is a serious radical Islamic movement out there working very hard to penetrate not just the Muslem world but also areas that they think there are large segments of Western influence including our country.’’
Some Muslim clerics who are aware of the existence of the video say the viewers are simply satisfying their fantasies.
But Dr. Gebe believes it is not as simple as that. ‘‘A Muslem youth who watches this thing may seriously take it and therefore think about action,’’ the senior lecturer points out, adding that ‘‘if we do not take time, though our parts of the world are quite peaceful, some people will read into it differently and the next time that kind of violence, instability we do not want, our youth will embark on the same.’’
A cleric, who would rather not disclose his identity, disagrees with the assertion that Muslims could be incited by the bin Laden video and similar ones. In any case, he insists, all the terrorism America is suffering can be put squarely at the doorstep of President George W. Bush.
‘‘Yes people (are) laughing because he (bin Laden) is a Muslem but we Africans cannot risk our lives to danger. What I see in America, these little crashes, go and bomb some houses. This little market, I do not believe that Osman can do it. Americans did it themselves to attack Muslems.’’
The point of sale of the video interestingly is adjacent to a mosque and the call to prayers could be heard even as the crowd gathering to watch the bin Laden movie grows.
The Muslims who were also watching the Jihadis propaganda material along with the crowd had to leave in obedience to the call. What they make of bin Laden’s call was however not immediately obvious.