Religion of 2014-01-27

‘Don’t force students to abandon their religion’

The Vice-President, Mr Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, has asked authorities of public educational institutions not to force students to abandon their faith in favour of another religion.

He said the primary importance of education was to provide a good environment for learning and socialising, as well as positioning the beneficiary for the larger environment.

“The school is not meant for evangelising. Government educational institutions are for secular education; they are not supposed to do what they are doing,” he said.

Mr Amissah-Arthur was responding to an appeal made by the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Osumanu Nuhu Sharubutu, for public second cycle institutions to allow Muslim students to worship freely without hindrance. This was at the annual celebration of the birth of the Prophet Mohammed in Accra last Saturday.

It was organised by the Office of the National Chief Imam on the theme: “Education and Job Creation for National Development.”

The celebration brought together some members of the diplomatic corps, leaders and heads of the various Islamic institutions, chiefs and imams from Ghana and Nigeria, among others.

Mr Amissah-Arthur said the government appreciated the various roles that religion and religious bodies played in the administration of the country, and pointed out that: “It is a fact that our national life has benefitted from religion, which has served an important role in keeping the country safe and peaceful, and we are determined as a government to keep it so.”

He said schools taught students about tolerance and to accept diversities in order to live together.

“We become better people and better human beings when we understand and appreciate each other’s way of life and religion since it contributes to national unity,” he added.

Mr Amissah-Arthur, therefore, assured the National Chief Imam of government’s commitment to look into the matter and correct the impression made, and urged the youth to seek peace at all times.

The National Chief Imam

In a speech read on his behalf, the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Osumanu Nuhu Sharubutu, said it was sad that Muslim students were not allowed to worship freely despite calls on the government to intervene in the matter.

He said the students were forced to worship on Sundays which was contrary to the freedom of worship, stipulated by the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.

He, therefore, expressed optimism that the government would make an effort to intervene in the matter “as we are Ghanaians and deserve equal rights as others.”

National Mosque Project

On the issue of the National Mosque, Sheikh Sharubutu said work was progressing steadily and when completed, would be an important addition of beauty to Accra’s skyline.

He affirmed the commitment of the Muslim community to continue to pray for the country for Allah’s guidance and protection.

Theme and background of celebration

Speaking on the theme, the Regional Imam of Takoradi, Mr Awwal Shueib, said the celebration of the birth of the Prophet Mohammed was an annual event which was done to remember his mercy onto all creations.

“He is the one and only prophet whose life is worthy of emulation,” he said.

He said the outstanding qualities of the prophet were built on the foundation of divine enlightenment and also within the context of education, development and job creation which had a common agenda of producing a moral character ready at all times to serve humanity.

“Society should, therefore, create more educational opportunities for their generation and further generations,” he added.