Source: Ghana|Myjoyonline.com|Nathan Gadugah
Government has condemned what it describes as religious intolerance perpetrated against Muslim girls in various educational institutions in the country.
Muslims in the Western Region have taken to the streets, Friday in a peaceful demonstration to protest what they say is the manifest discrimination against them on the basis of religion in the various schools.
The aggrieved protestors claim Muslim girls have been prevented from wearing their hijabs, a veil that covers the head and chest of women beyond the age of puberty in the presence of adult males outside of their family and, according to some interpretations, in the presence of adult non-Muslim females outside of their immediate family.
Some of the Muslim students also allege that they are forced by heads of institutions, especially second cycle institutions to attend Christian church services and programmes, against their will and their religion.
The aggrieved students and their leaders in the Western Region said they could no longer take the seeming discrimination against them and therefore decided to embark on a peaceful demonstration.
Government agrees with the concerns of the aggrieved Muslims.
A statement issued and signed by Communications Minister Dr Edward Omane Boamah said: “We consider it not only as a religious intolerance, but also a breach of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, for Muslim students to be forced to take off their hijabs in schools. In much the same it is unacceptable for Muslim students to be forced to attend church services in schools, especially when it seeks to introduce those students to a religion, which they may not subscribe to, nor be adherents of.”
Quoting Article 21(1) (c) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana which says “All persons shall have the right to freedom to practice any religion and to manifest such practice” the minister said that the religious interest of the Muslim girls must be respected.
The Minister also warned “heads of institutions, including schools and workplaces, found to be contravening this basic constitutional right would be liable to sanctions.”
The National Peace Council has meanwhile called for a peaceful resolution of the controversy.
Chairman of the Council Most Rev Prof Emmanuel Asante told Joy News their attention was drawn to the controversy only two days ago and they have constituted a committee to look into the matter.
He said the committee has until the end of March to provide a comprehensive roadmap to resolve the controversy.
He admonished the youth “not to start any religious conflict in our country,” adding, “we need to live in peace.”