General News of Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Source: Daily Graphic

Chief Imam warns Zongo youth against violence

The National Chief Imam, Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu, has stated that his office will not defend any member of the Zongo communities who will be arrested for acts of violence before, during and after the December 7 general election.

He has, therefore, cautioned the youth in the Zongo communities to desist from engaging in acts that would lead to violence during the elections.

At a press briefing in Accra yesterday, Sheikh Sharubutu said during the 2008 general election, relatives of most of the Zongo youths who were arrested by the police, particularly in Accra, pleaded with him to intervene for their release.

The said what caused the arrest of some of the youths included stealing of ballot boxes, beating of polling agents and encouraging minors to vote.

The press briefing was organized by the Islamic Peace and Security Council of Ghana (IPASEC) as part of its core responsibility to promote peace and enhance stability in the run-up to the elections.

The event was also used to highlight some of the initiatives put together by IPASEC to ensure that Muslim youth, especially those in the Zongo communities, were not used by politicians as instruments to unleash unnecessary tension and confusion in the build-up to the December polls.

“In the 2012 general election nobody, including the heads of Muslim organizations in all the 10 regions of Ghana, will involve himself or herself in matters involving violence and chaos perpetrated by the Zongo communities or any member of the Muslim communities or any member of the Muslim religion,” he said.

Sheik Sharubutu, who is also the Founder and Chairman of IPASEC, said Muslim communities in Ghana would not tolerate any acts of violence by their members that could pose a threat to the peaceful and stable environment enjoyed by Ghanaians.

“We want the general populace of Muslim communities, to accept the outcome of the elections, whether it favours their political parties or not. Ghana is not for one section of people, nor is it for a particular religion, but for all of us,” he said.

He said stealing ballot boxes, fighting opposing parties, forcing minors to vote and beating up polling agents were not the best channels or dissatisfaction in a democratic country like Ghana.

Explaining some of the mechanisms IPASEC was using to educate the Zongo communities ahead of the December polls, its Vice-Chairman, Alhaji Ahmed Nii Nortey, said since May this year, the council had embarked on massive education in all the Zongo communities in the Greater Accra Region on how to observe peaceful elections.

He said IPASEC had identified all the areas and places where the Zongo youth met to discuss matters and issues that were of importance to them.

As part of the IPASEC effort to ensure peaceful elections, he said the council would deploy 400 trained youth to all the 12 Zongo communities in Accra to monitor the activities of Muslims on voting day.

In addition, he said, trained youth would send reports and the names of people who would be seen engaging in violence to the council for action.