Member of Parliament for Tamale Central, Murtala Mohammed says the religious intolerance displayed by the authorities at Wesley Girls’ High School against Muslims must not be accepted.
Speaking on the AM Show, he said that observing fast in Ramadan is one of the essential duties of a Muslim thus it is unfortunate that the school is preventing young Muslims in the institution from fasting.
“I think this intolerance must stop. We are dealing with a secular state, and we are dealing with a public institution. Of course, the genesis of that institution was not public, it was a Christian missionary school which is now a public institution.”
“Fasting is essential as a Muslim. So if you have a child who is up to 16 years, it is incumbent or compulsory in fulfillment of the religious obligation as a Muslim he or she has to fast. If you deny that person from fasting, you are virtually denying her from observing the five daily prayers because, in terms of those pillars, they are equally important.” Mr Mohammed told host Benjamin Akakpo.
His comment comes after an angry father on Monday, April 26, stormed Wesley Girls’ High School in Cape Coast to withdraw his ward from the school saying he does not understand why the school does not permit her and other Muslims there to fast.
Ishmael Zakaria Alhassan recounted that when his daughter arrived at the school, the headmistress explained why the school does not allow students to fast.
The head, he said, indicated it was not only Muslim students in the school that are not allowed to fast but all students from different denominations including Christians.
The school authorities had explained to him that their reasons for not letting students, no matter their religious affiliation, fast was due to health reasons, as there were concerns of students developing ulcers because of the activity.
But, the Tamale Central MP stated that the excuse of the school authorities does not justify their actions.
He explained that unlike Muslims fasting for Christians is not an obligatory religious duty they need to fulfill.
Mr Mohammed explained that there are categories of people exempted from fasting. These include a pregnant woman, a nursing mother, a terminally ill person, and an old person.
He stated that once a person is not in any of these categories they must be allowed to fast once they are of age.
“If you listen to the interview, the father said the daughter has been fasting since she was eight, so why would they prevent the girl from fasting? And if you observe the interview she was virtually crying that she has been denied of practising her faith, I think that the headmistress of that institution should be brought to order, this intolerant level must not be accepted.”
He recounted how he once taught at the Ghana Lebanon Islamic Secondary School at the time the authorities wanted all students including non-Muslims to partake in the Friday prayers and teachings.
But he said that he had to fight for non-Muslims to be given the option not to partake in the school’s Friday activity adding that it was not the Islamic way to force anything on anyone, neither does the constitution allow that.
“I think that the headmistress of that institution should be brought to order, this intolerant level must not be accepted. Look, this country has been very peaceful.”
“Most of us attended mission schools and I remember when I was attending methodist we went to read the hymn we were not forced to go but we loved and enjoyed going to the church to read the hymn. When I went to training a colleague we did all those things even in secondary school. People must not be denied those opportunities.”
Meanwhile, the Muslim Caucus in Parliament has held a meeting with the leadership of the Methodist Church in Ghana concerning the refusal of school authorities of Wesley Girls’ High School to allow a Muslim student fast during the month of Ramadan.
The group in a statement following the meeting on Thursday, said the Church assured them of its commitment to resolve the issue within a couple of days.