Gitmo saga has nothing to do with Islam or Christianity

Tue, 19 Jan 2016 Source: Isaac Kyei Andoh | Ghnews360.com

The call for the repatriation of the two ex-detainees has got nothing to do with their religious orientation but purely based on past records and the potential threat most Ghanaians think they pose to our security.

With many Ghanaians concerned about the security threat the two ex-Gitmo inmates pose despite government’s countless effort to play down such potential Christian groups in the country, including the Christian Council, Catholic Bishops Conference and Charismatic and Pentecostal Council have all raised concerns about the issue.

The Chief Imam’s office have also made their views known and on record to side with government in the matter.

Though it may appear unpopular given the growing number of Ghanaians from all walks of lives are against it, it remains the view of a man who has endeared himself into the heart of Ghanaians and has demonstrated wisdom and statesmanship on countless occasions since he became a leader of our Muslim brothers.

The Chief Imam had a point, every human deserves a chance: whereas those who think the decision is a wrong one also have a point, we cannot take chances with our already fragile security.

In a nutshell, both lines of argument should be considered, and the best should be adopted after extensive debate and proper analysis from experts.

However, during the week, spokesperson for National Chief Imam, ?Sheik Aremeyaw Shaibu attacked Christian groups for calling for the repatriation of the two Yemenis and reduced the entire issue to one of religious intolerance.

The fact that most Civil Society Organisations, known and credible security experts and majority of Ghanaians including Muslims are against it did not matter to the man who speaks for the National Chief Imam.

He described the Christian groups as xenophobic, intolerant and self-righteous.

He even went further to give us unnecessary historical records of supposed Christians who have been involved in acts of terrorism around the world.

As if it matters the religion of a terrorist. Terrorism is evil not because of who is behind it, but what it is.

What Sheik Aremeyaw Shaibu seems to forget or deliberately overlooked is that the least talked about the matter is the religious association of the ex-detainees. The concerns raised so far have been limited to the past record of the two Yemenis and the fact that there are no guarantees that we will be safe.

By reducing the whole discussion to a religious centred one, is he telling Ghanaians that the Chief Imam threw his weight behind government because they are Muslims?

As it stands now, no Ghanaian can say on authority that the two guys have never been involved in terrorism activities or will be of good behaviour while they stay in Ghana.

Reducing the whole issue to religious differences will not help us as a country and must in no way be tolerated regardless of who is behind it. It is a shame that such a myopic view should come from one who speaks on behalf of the much respected National Chief Imam.

If ?Sheik Aremeyaw Shaibu feels that the they need a second chance, he should drive home his point and not condemn others for driving theirs. His comment is irresponsible, reckless and should not be tolerated on our airwaves. As a matter of fact, the Chief Imam will do his respected office a lot of good by distancing himself from that viewpoint because Ghana is better off without that.

Over the past two decades, many issues of national interest are not dealt with to their logical conclusion because they get politicised. We cannot afford to bring religious considerations to issue if we want to move forward.

95% of Ghanaians are either Muslims or call themselves Christians, if we begin to analyse issues based on the religious affiliation of those involved, then our quest for justice and a peaceful nation will just remain a mirage.

So far, we have done well by rising above that and therefore, whoever instigates a reaction that can only get us there should be condemned and treated with the contempt it deserves.

Sheik Aremeyaw Shaibu should come out to apologise to the people of Ghana, the Christian groups he attacked if he has some conscience. By letting his emotion get the better of him and not discussing the issue in line with the fact, he has laid a very bad foundation which he will do us a lot of good by breaking it himself.

My view on the issue

Personally, I am of the view that the environment has been poisoned and therefore it is best for them to return. You can’t rebuild your life in a nation you are not wanted by over half of its populace. The brouhaha surrounding their coming will make it impossible for them to live their normal lives they crave for and after 14 years of being denied their rights (whether wrongly or correctly), they deserve a more serene atmosphere that will help them catch up for the time lost over the past 14 years.

Ghana, despite our well-known love for foreigners, at the moment, doesn’t seem to be the ideal place for them to put their lives together after being denied the opportunity to do so at their early years after age 20.

First, if they are innocent and pose no threat, then they deserve better than a nation that will not offer them the love they deserve after 14 torrid years of their young lives.

Also, if they were guilty but want to turn a new leaf, then they deserve a place where every step they take will not be looked at with contempt and prejudice. Ghana doesn’t seem to be the place as things stand.

And finally, if they are guilty, not ready to change, then Ghana is not ready for them; especially in an election year.

In conclusion, the marriage between Mahmud Umar Muhammad Ben Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby on one side and Ghana is not going to be the “happily ever after fairy-tale” President Mahama hoped it to be.

Isaac Kyei Andoh


Columnist: Isaac Kyei Andoh | Ghnews360.com