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Opinions of Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Columnist: Daily Guide

Gitmo Two: Cool heads better

There is a jinx about the two former inmates of Gitmo, which has kept the country on its toes since the plane conveying them touched down on Ghanaian soil. Indeed, even before their arrival, there had been a subtle national discourse about the level of their risks to national security.

If the national discourse had not degenerated into a near religious polemics between the Spokesperson of the National Chief Imam and representatives of some Christian faithful, the country’s temperature would not have overheated.

Suspicions appeared to have been triggered with the visit to the residence of the National Chief Imam by the Foreign Affairs Minister, Hanna Tetteh; General Victor Smith (rtd) and others on the same subject.

Curious observers queried why a similar visit was not extended to the other faiths. In matters of this nature – sensitive as they are – they call for an unrestricted finesse so that all stakeholders would not have cause to question the good intention or otherwise of the principal players in the complex game of managing matters bordering on religion and if you like, diplomacy, more so at a time when the war against terrorism has gathered momentum.

It is good that Ghanaians have considered the cordial relationship that exists between members of the two great faiths in the world – Islam and Christianity – and therefore not willing to allow politicians to use them to alter the status quo.

We find it regrettable that killjoys seek to equate the detestation to the hosting of the two former inmates of Gitmo in the country with a dislike for the Islamic faith.

Isolating the religion of the former Gitmo inmates in our discussion about their national security implication would help us deal with the subject realistically and shielding it from avoidable and unnecessary bad blood.

In his reaction to the concerns raised by representatives of the Christian faith, innocuous as they are, the spokesperson of the National Chief Imam was rather abrasive and lost the cool heads required under such circumstances. Eventually, an avoidable situation began to take shape but thankfully did not get to a boiling point.

We would plead with spokespersons for important personalities such as the National Chief Imam and others to learn the ropes of diplomacy so that when they are reacting to hot issues they do not lose their heads.

Words and body language mean a lot when managing situations such as the one prompted by the hosting of the two Al-Qaeda ‘foot soldiers’ as the Foreign Affairs Minister dubbed the two. Let us work towards sustaining the cordiality that exists between Islam and Christianity even if that means sanctioning those who through their actions and inactions affect negatively the bond holding them together.