Ghana Muslim Leaders Ask Government to Block Mandatory Prayers

Ghana’s Muslim leaders asked the government’s Peace Council to prevent Christian schools from forcing Muslim students to attend religious services.

President John Dramani Mahama warned schools last week that they they may face sanctions if they force Muslim students to attend services or remove religious clothing. Muslims in the Western Region protested last week when administrators forced girls to remove their hijabs to take pictures for exam registration. The Catholic Church and other Christian organizations run schools that receive government funding.

“We see the Muslims in the mission schools as victims of human rights violations,” Sheikh Armiyawo Shaibu, regional manager for the Islamic education unit of the Ghana Education Service, said by phone in the capital Accra Wednesday. “If we are not careful this will move from the core issue of human right violation to a conflict between Muslims and Christians and this not the case.”

Disputes between Muslims and Christians are rare in Ghana. While Muslims account for one in five Ghanaians, the government observes Islamic holidays and the president meets often with Islamic leaders. Ghana has no reports of “abuses of religious freedom” and the government “often took steps to promote interfaith understanding,” the U.S. State Department said in its International Religious Freedom Report for 2012.

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