Preserving The Interfaith Harmony

National Chief Imam Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu

Interfaith harmony in Ghana is an enviable feature of this country, one which makes it stand apart from others.

Countries which are not blessed with it look at Ghana with awe wondering why theirs is the contrary of what obtains here.

There are homes where family members belong to the Abrahamic faiths of Islam and Christianity—a reality which provides additional impetus for the prevailing peace among Muslims and their Christian brothers and sisters.

However, it appears in the past year or so the phenomenon of the Muslim female veil or Hijab is becoming a source of an avoidable friction. Some developed countries have gone through this challenge and happily addressed it amicably.

A few individuals in some state institutions are not managing this issue well hence a number of isolated yet critical occurrences across the country as recorded on social media. In a social media-driven age, such occurrences could easily be exaggerated for effect.

The peace this country is enjoying should not be compromised. We must all as Ghanaians belonging to the two faiths do all we can to ensure that those who are working advertently and otherwise to rock the boat of interfaith harmony stop it.

In our Tuesday edition, we carried a story about the alleged ordeal of two female Muslims at the hands of agents of two institutions.

Although we are unable to authenticate the claims that their Hijabs were removed in a manner which embarrassed them and constituted a trampling of their human rights, the subject, because of its delicate nature, should be investigated.

The victims, of course, traumatized and losing their self-esteem should be wondering whether or not the Constitution bestows upon them the right to practise their faiths.

We have observed the concern raised by the National Chief Imam to the effect that the subject is likely to be exploited by some persons whose reaction could be consistent with what others may describe as extremism or even terrorism.

Those who consider this subject as a triviality do not perhaps understand what constitutes national security. Our inability as a nation to manage this issue could have it degenerate to disturbing levels.

We think that a conference of stakeholders—such as representatives of the National Security apparatus, Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), the Office of the National Chief Imam, West African Examinations Council (WAEC), National Peace Council and others—could lead to a positive closure of this subject. The alleged victims too should be present to narrate their stories.

The signals being emitted by the isolated cases of the removal of the Hijabs of Muslim ladies are negative hence the need for an action to tackle it once and for all.

Since only a few yet potentially dangerous individuals are perpetrating the abuses, we can as a nation stop it forthwith without throwing blows.

For now, as the National Chief Imam has demanded, let all be patient as the subject is dealt with by leadership (his office) and the germane state agencies.