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General News of Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Source: citinewsroom.com

Stop interfering in religious affairs – Muslim groups tell government

The Coalition of Muslim Organisations, Ghana (COMOG), has chastised government for its involvement in religious matters in a secular state like Ghana.

COMOG in a statement expressed concern with the role government plays in the annual Hajj pilgrimage and recently the controversial National Cathedral for Christians.

“The coalition would like to express serious concern about the increasing involvement of the Government of Ghana in religious matters and its implication for national unity and cohesion. For more than a decade now, COMOG has continually insisted on the need for government to relinquish its stake in the organization of Hajj and allow Muslims to handle the pilgrimage as a purely private spiritual exercise. While our efforts continue to achieve this goal, we were startled by the government’s meddling in yet another religions endeavor: the construction of a cathedral,” COMOG added in the statement.

Government has received a lot of backlash over its intention to evict some nine Court of Appeal judges and other residents around the Ridge area in Accra, to pave the way for the construction of a National Cathedral.

Some Ghanaians claimed the project is a waste of taxpayers’ money since there are more important projects government could prioritize.

Although government said the project will not be funded by private institutions, COMOG in a statement signed by its National President, Sheikh Dr Al-Hussien Zakaria, said the group suspects the construction of a national cathedral is a state project, adding that government is only using the clergy as a cover-up.

Sheikh Zakaria in an earlier interview with Citi News said “we know that this idea is purely government’s idea and is now inviting Christians into [it].”

Although COMOG said it is not against the construction of a national cathedral, it believes that Christians in Ghana are capable of building a cathedral without government’s involvement or sponsorship.

“Just as the Government of Ghana has not been involved in the construction of a religious edifice for Muslims, Traditionalists, Hindus etc, it should not be involved in the efforts by Christians to build themselves a cathedral,” the group added in its statement.

The Coalition also said government’s seeming support for Muslims and now Christians “constitutes state sponsorship and promotion of Islam and Christianity respectively. In a secular nation with multiple faiths, this promotion of Islam and Christianity constitutes an affront to the letter and spirit of the Constitution of Ghana which bars the state from any promotion or sponsorship of religious activities.”

COMOG in the statement also lambasted government for deciding to demolish some public facilities around the earmarked site for the national cathedral edifice saying it amounts to “wanton destruction of state property” and called for its relocation.

“We join well-meaning Ghanaians in calling for the relocation of the cathedral to another part of Ghana where it can be constructed at a little cost to the state,” COMOG appealed in the statement.

The coalition also in its statement called on the President, Nana Akufo-Addo to halt the planned demolition exercise “and any other activities that will cause permanent damage to or loss of state property until the suit at the Supreme Court is heard. The government should also return the mandate for the future organization of Hajj into the hands of Ghanaian Muslims.”



Gov’t meets clergy

President Nana Akufo-Addo on Wednesday met the clergy following the outcry over the national cathedral project by the matter was not widely discussed.