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General News of Thursday, 5 March 2015

Source: Starrfmonline.com

Security expert urges media blackout on Christian-Muslim brouhaha

Head of the Department of Research at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Accra, Dr Kwesi Aning is urging a media blackout on the raging debate about religious rights in mission schools.

It follows press statements and counter-statements issued by various Christian and Muslim groups over the debate.

On Wednesday, various Muslim groups in the country jointly issued a statement expressing qualms about the “uncompromising” pronouncements made by some Christian groups concerning the controversy over religious rights abuses 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 Tuesday 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.

After a demonstration by Muslims in the Western region on February 20, 2015, to demand that Muslim students should not be forced to go to church on Sundays nor girls and women forced to take off their hijabs, the Government issued a statement in which it threatened to sanction heads of schools or institutions that flout the religious rights of Muslims.

The Christian Council took exception to the one-sided statement since it said Christian students also suffer similar discrimination in Muslim schools across the country.

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, the reaction of the Christian community could plunge the country into religious disarray.

Speaking to Bernard Nasara Saibu on Starr Today, Dr Aning said the controversy is a “tinderbox” which could easily plunge Ghana into mayhem if not handled properly by the various religious stakeholders and the media in particular as far as reportage is concerned.

Dr Aning is of the opinion that the issue should be handled privately to avert any deterioration, since according to him, the language of the two major faiths involved in the controversy smacks of intransigence.