We are not extremists or lawless: Chief Imam wades into religious intolerance claims


The National Chief Imam, Sheik Nuhu Osman Sharubutu has parried attempts to link Muslims demand for freedom of worship as an act of extremism or lawlessness.

According to the Chief Imam, Muslims in Ghana are only insisting on their constitutional rights which they believe are “directly affected by what we see as clear and deliberate violations of our religious freedom guaranteed by the constitution”.

An 11 point statement copied to Myjoyonline.com, and signed for National Chief Imam stated, “We, collectively, as Muslims, desire no confrontation whatsoever with any religious or any other group for that matter. We are simply asking all to respect our religious rights and freedoms as we give others, and as constitutionally guaranteed.”

The statement further urged persons “adversely affected” by Christian Council and Catholic Bishops’ Conference’s take on the raging issue to remain calm.

“We support the efforts of the National Peace Council to find a lasting and comprehensive solution to this matter, and therefore, to ensure that we continue to enjoy the peace and tranquility we have had in this country.”

Below is the full statement
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Most Merciful

NATIONAL LEADERSHIP OF MUSLIMS IN GHANA
We, the National leadership of Muslims in this Country, salute you with the salutation of peace, “Asalamu Alaikum Warahmatulillah Ta’ala Wabarakatuh (May the Peace, Mercy and Blessings of Allah Be Upon you all)”.

We, the National leadership of Muslims in Ghana under the auspices of the National Chief Imam, conscious of our collective and individual responsibilities to our flocks in the various Islamic groups in this country, more than anyone else deeply appreciate, and desire to jealously guard the peace, tranquility, and harmonious coexistence among followers of the respective religious groups in this dear nation of ours. Being sharply aware especially of the turbulences in numerous countries of the world, where religious intolerance has been a key factor in fuelling of conflicts, therefore wish to state that:

We are deeply saddened by the uncompromising position taken by the Christian Council and  Catholic Bishops’ Conference in the statement issued on 3 rd March 2015 as well as other earlier statements coming from certain individuals like the PRO of GES and the Deputy General Secretary of GNAT regarding the Muslim community’s demand for freedom of worship in  educational institutions and workplaces in Ghana; to the extent that a Constitutional provision could be undermined, and worse than that, potentially undermine the harmonious and peaceful coexistence that we have enjoyed all these years.

We are conscious that our rights do not negate or deny any other group from demanding their own rights from the right quarters, because our respective rights are not mutually exclusive. Our understanding is that the constitutional directive applies to people of all faiths and not only Muslims or Christians.

We, collectively, as Muslims, desire no confrontation whatsoever with any religious or any other group for that matter. We are simply asking all to respect our religious rights and freedoms as we give others, and as constitutionally guaranteed.

A fundamental teaching of our religion that, “there is no compulsion in religion, truly the right way has become clearly distinct from error” Quran 2:256; require that we compel no one to practice our religion.

We are human beings, citizens, and stakeholders in this country who are directly affected by what we see as clear and deliberate violations of our religious freedom guaranteed by the constitution. Therefore, our demand has nothing to do with extremism, lawlessness or politics.

We urge all persons adversely affected by the statements from the Christian Council, Catholic Bishops’ Conference and some individuals to remain calm as we work with key stakeholders to ensure strict adherence to the provision of the constitution of Ghana, on freedom of faith and worship for all.

We have, in the face of these violations of our rights resorted to dialogue with the National Peace Council, as well as institutions such as the Ghana Education Service and the Ghana Health Service. The demonstration by Muslims in the western region was an isolated case born out of long frustration in that context which shot the issue into public domain. The general approach elsewhere have been by dialogue with concerned institutional heads.

We support the efforts of the National Peace Council to find a lasting and comprehensive solution to this matter, and therefore, to ensure that we continue to enjoy the peace and tranquility we have had in this country.

We are therefore urging the National Peace Council, as a matter of urgency to expedite action on the petition that was brought before it by the National leadership of the Muslim community.

To His Excellency President John Dramani Mahama, the Government, the National Peace Council and various government agencies, who very well knowing the extent to which this very delicate matter could degenerate, and who desire to see that right is done to all manner of people in this country, we thank  you for your concern.

We acknowledge with appreciation, the efforts of Government, various governmental agencies, the National Peace Council, media houses and many well-meaning citizens to address the issues comprehensively. We thank you all for your concerns, and May Allah Bless you all.

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
                   SIGNED
FOR: NATIONAL CHIEF IMAM


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