The Muslim Caucus in Parliament has slammed the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG), and the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference (GCBC), for backing the decision to bar Muslim students in Wesley Girls' High School from fasting.
A Press Statement issued by the caucus and signed by the Asawase lawmaker, Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka urged the Ghana Education Service to enforce its earlier directive to allow " any [Muslim] student who wishes to fast for any religious reasons to be able to do so…".
"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 wishesto 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."
Wesley Girls' High School was directed by the Ghana Education Service to permit Muslim students who wish to fast to do so, but the Methodist Church countered the decision and insisted the school cannot bend its rules to allow Muslim students to fast.
The CCG and the GCBC subsequently backed this decision, saying it was in the best interest of the students.
Below is the full statement
MUSLIM CAUCUS IN PARLIAMENT OF GHANAPRESS RELEASE ON THE COMMUNIQUE BY THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS'
CONFERENCE AND THE CHRISTIAN COUNCIL OF GHANA ON THEWESLEY GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL MUSLIM FASTING IMPASSE
The Muslim Caucus in Parliament of Ghana and Muslim Stakeholders under the ableleadership 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 CatholicBishops' 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 ofreligion, 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.
Moreover, we find it unacceptable for any religious group to hide behind the veil ofmajority or religious traditions to unleash tyranny and intolerance on the faith and cardinal doctrine of other faiths. If the disingenuous and dangerous argument ofmajority 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 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. Wetherefore 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 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 ofEducation 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 wishesto 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