Friday, 25 June

Wesley Girls' fasting saga: Muslim caucus 'shocked, disappointed' with Christian C'cil, Catholic Bishops

General News
Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka

The Muslim Caucus in Ghana’s Parliament and Muslim stakeholders in the country, have expressed disappointment with the position of the Christian Council and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference for backing Wesley Girls’ High School in preventing a Muslim student from observing the Ramadan fast.

The Christian Council of Ghana (CCG) and the Catholic Bishops' Conference (GCBC), in a joint statement, backed the decision of the Methodist Church and the Wesley Girls’ High School authorities to prevent Muslim students from performing the obligatory religious rite.

Despite a directive by the Ghana Education Service (GES) to allow “any student who wishes to fast for any religious reasons to be able to do so…”, the religious groups stressed: “We wish to endorse the position of the Methodist Church of Ghana”.

"The leadership of the CCG and GCBC, therefore, wish to state that we took strong exception to the directive of the Ghana Education Service issued in their press release on May 1, 2021," a statement from the religious bodies noted.

The statement explained that mission schools have been guided by long-standing religious traditions of the respective churches from their inception in the country.

But a counter-statement issued by the Muslim Caucus in Parliament and signed by the Member of Parliament for the Asawase Constituency, Mr Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka on Monday, 10 May 2021, noted: ”The endorsement of the position of the Methodist Church Ghana by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference and Christian Council of Ghana came as a shock to Muslim leaders”.

“It also calls into question the years of partnership and mutual cooperation that have existed between Muslim stakeholders under the able leadership of the National Chief Imam and these Christian bodies”.

“We state that if fasting, one of the key pillars of Islam, could be treated by the Methodist Church Ghana, the Christian Council of Ghana and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in such a cavalier and flippant manner on the basis of unscientific, spurious and trumped-up reasons then our constitutional values of freedom of religion, religious diversity and tolerance are at the stake and in great peril”.

“We are further taken aback by the stance of Catholic Bishops’ Conference and the Christian Council of Ghana in encouraging WESLEY GIRLS’ HIGH SCHOOL and the Methodist Church Ghana to disregard a lawful directive of the Ghana Education Service for the 'authorities of Wesley Girls High School… to allow any such student who wishes to fast for any religious reasons to be able to do so…' We consider this attack on the authority of the Ghana Education Service to be highly troubling as it undermines State authority and further sets a bad precedent”.

The statement also disclosed that the Muslim leadership has met the Minister of Education to deliberate on the matter.

“We are pleased by the assurances of the Minister that this matter will be amicably resolved”.

“We, therefore, entreat the Muslim Ummah and the good people of Ghana to continue to exercise self-restraint in face of this coordinated attack on Ghana’s constitutional values and the authority of state institutions,” the statement added.

Read the full statement below:

MUSLIM CAUCUS IN PARLIAMENT OF GHANA

PRESS RELEASE ON THE COMMUNIQUE BY THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE AND THE CHRISTIAN COUNCIL OF GHANA ON THE WESLEY GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL MUSLIM FASTING IMPASSE

The Muslim Caucus in Parliament of Ghana and Muslim Stakeholders under the able leadership of the National Chief Imam, His Eminence Sheikh Dr Usman Nuhu Sharubutu, have received with extreme disappointment the Communiqué issued by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference and the Christian Council of Ghana dated 5th May 2021. The Communiqué endorsed the stand of the Methodist Church Ghana to prevent Muslim students at WESLEY GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL from fasting in the holy month of Ramadan.

The endorsement of the position of the Methodist Church Ghana by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference and Christian Council of Ghana came as a shock to Muslim leaders. It also calls into question the years of partnership and mutual cooperation that have existed between Muslim Stakeholders under the able leadership of the National Chief Imam and these Christian bodies.

We state that if fasting, one of the key pillars of Islam, could be treated by the Methodist Church Ghana, the Christian Council of Ghana and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in such a cavalier and flippant manner on the basis of unscientific, spurious and trumped-up reasons then our constitutional values of freedom of religion, religious diversity and tolerance are at the stake and in great peril.

We are further taken aback by the stance of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference and the Christian Council of Ghana in encouraging WESLEY GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL and the Methodist Church Ghana to disregard a lawful directive of the Ghana Education Service for the “authorities of Wesley Girls High School… to allow any such student who wishes to fast for any religious reasons to be able to do so…” We consider this attack on the authority of the Ghana Education Service to be highly troubling as it undermines State authority and further sets a bad precedent.

Moreover, we find it unacceptable for any religious group to hide behind the veil of majority or religious traditions to unleash tyranny and intolerance on the faith and cardinal doctrine of other faiths. If the disingenuous and dangerous argument of majority and religious tradition is allowed to hold sway, our country will be riven apart in our regions, districts, schools, neighbourhoods, markets, businesses, state institutions, among others. It must be stated that such dangerous arguments belong to a bygone era and have no place in a modern democracy like ours.

We wish to be absolutely clear. The just struggle for religious freedom and expression for all Ghanaians irrespective of faith in public-funded institutions is no respecter of the majority and constitutionally harmful religious traditions. We further state that we would never relent in our efforts to defend our constitutional values of freedom of religion, religious diversity and tolerance.

Today Muslim leadership met the Minister of Education to deliberate over the matter. We are pleased by the assurances of the Minister that this matter will be amicably resolved. We, therefore, entreat the Muslim Ummah and the good people of Ghana to continue to exercise self-restraint in face of this coordinated attack on Ghana’s constitutional values and the authority of State institutions.

As we stated in our Press Statement issued on 5th May 2021, Ghana has been an oasis of peace within the sub-region and indeed across Africa due to the peaceful co-existence and mutual respect that exist among various religious groups in the country, especially Muslims and Christians. It is therefore our duty as Muslim leaders to preserve this peace. In this regard, we will continue to engage the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service (GES) to cordially resolve the matter in the interest of national peace, unity and harmony.

In the meantime, we call on the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service to strictly enforce the directive to allow “any [Muslim] student who wishes to fast for any religious reasons to be able to do so…”

We will in the near future advise all Muslims in Ghana on the right course of action that will help protect and safeguard the rights of Muslims and Muslim students in Ghana.

God bless us all and bless our homeland Ghana

Hon. Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka (MP)

FOR: Muslim Caucus in Parliament

Monday 10th May, 2021

 

Source: Classfmonline.com