In a recent turn of events, Nana Akomea, the Communication Director of Vice-President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia’s campaign, has strongly condemned National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Ningo-Prampram, Samuel Nartey George, for his divisive comments regarding Dr. Bawumia’s religious affiliation thereby stoking religious intolerance.
Sam George accused the Vice-President of being a “religious prostitute,” alleging that Dr. Bawumia had embraced Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour without providing any evidence.
The MP also criticized Dr. Bawumia for his perceived silence on issues related to hijabs, fasting, and police killings of Muslim youth in Kumasi.
Nana Akomea dismissed Sam George’s statements as lacking merit and described them as sad.
He questioned whether the Chief Imam or any Muslim leader’s silence on certain issues would make them any less of a true Muslim.
National Chief Imam at church
Nana Akomea cited an example from 2019 when the National Chief Imam Sheikh Osmanu Nuhu Sharubutu visited a Catholic Church as part of his 100th birthday celebrations, promoting inter-faith harmony.
Accompanied by a large entourage of top clerics and leading figures in the Islamic community, the visit went viral within minutes as the images were being posted particularly on social media.
The Chief Imam was received on arrival by the Parish Priest, Rev. Father Andrew Campbell, who led the congregation to sing a happy birthday song to his guest
For a man whose peace overtures have earned for him a cross-faith reverence, the visit to Christ The King on an Easter Sunday augmented an already existing virtue.
When some critics condemned the actions of the Chief Imam as an abomination, for a Muslim to participate in Christian worship, his spokesperson Aremeyao Shaibu justified it insisting that Sheikh Sharubutu was not worshipping but moving the relationship between Muslims and Christians from mere tolerance to engagement.
“The chief imam is changing the narrative about Islam from a religion of wickedness, a religion of conflict, a religion of hate for others, to a religion whose mission is rooted in the virtues of love, peace and forgiveness,” Aremeyao Shaibu said.
Drawing attention to the teachings of both the Holy Quran and the Holy Bible on tolerance, Akomea emphasized that true faith lies in belief and adherence to the tenets of the religion, not in public commentary on specific issues.
Nana Akomea accused Sam George of attempting to incite religious discord and intolerance against Dr. Bawumia, noting that such efforts would not yield positive results.
He urged Ghanaians to commend leaders like Dr. Bawumia and the Chief Imam for their efforts in promoting religious harmony in the country.
Dr. Bawumia as Vice-President for all Ghanaians has made a conscious effort to strengthen the relationship between Muslims and Christians to enhance religious tolerance and harmony.
Various groups and individuals have commended Dr. Bawumia for his instrumental role in promoting religious harmony and diversity which have helped to consolidate peace and social harmony.
His visits to churches is said to be having a phenomenal and amazing impact on religious harmony.
Many have advocated that the leadership qualities Dr. Bawumia be replicated in every facet of society where there is a Moslem and Christian relationship.
Sheikh Sharubutu, has consistently emphasized the key tenets of Islam rooted in peace and love.
Muslims constitute 20% of population
Ghana, with a religious demographic of approximately 71% Christian and 20% Muslim according to the 2021 government census, has long prided itself on religious tolerance.
As the political discourse becomes entangled with religious sentiments, the need for constructive dialogue and mutual respect remains paramount to ensure the preservation of Ghana’s tradition of inter-faith harmony.
Religious intolerance is an act of denying the right of people of another religious faith to practice and express their beliefs freely
Religious intolerance can have far-reaching and detrimental consequences on individuals, communities, and societies.
Social division and conflict
Religious intolerance often leads to social divisions, fostering an “us versus them” mentality.
This can escalate into conflicts, ranging from verbal disputes to violence and even wars.
History is replete with examples where religious differences have been a catalyst for social unrest and strife.
Discrimination and marginalization
Intolerance can result in discrimination against individuals or groups based on their religious beliefs.
This discrimination may manifest in various forms, such as exclusion from opportunities, unequal treatment, or even violence against minority religious communities.
Violence and terrorism
Extreme forms of religious intolerance can fuel acts of violence and terrorism.
Individuals or groups may justify violent actions against perceived religious adversaries, leading to a cycle of retaliation and counter-violence.
This not only endangers lives but also destabilizes entire regions.
Stifling freedom of expression
Intolerance can lead to restrictions on freedom of expression, as individuals may fear expressing dissenting views or practicing their faith openly.
This stifling of freedom hampers intellectual and social progress and creates an atmosphere of fear and censorship.
Religious intolerance can have economic repercussions as well.
When communities are divided along religious lines, economic cooperation and development initiatives may be hindered.
Foreign investment and tourism may decline due to concerns about stability and security.
Individuals who face discrimination or persecution due to their religious beliefs may experience significant psychological distress.
This can lead to anxiety, depression, and a general decline in mental well-being for individuals and entire communities.
Undermining social cohesion
A tolerant society thrives on social cohesion and unity.
Religious intolerance erodes these foundations, weakening the bonds that hold communities together.
This fragmentation can impede collective efforts to address common challenges, such as poverty, education, and healthcare.
In an interconnected world, religious intolerance in one region can have global repercussions.
It may strain diplomatic relations, contribute to the spread of extremist ideologies across borders, and influence international perceptions of a country or region.
Addressing religious intolerance requires a concerted effort to promote dialogue, understanding, and respect for diversity.
Encouraging tolerance can help build inclusive societies where people of different faiths can coexist peacefully and contribute to the collective well-being.
Research also shows that not only are there fewer acts of religious intolerance when governments and societies protect and respect freedom of religion or belief, but there are also other positive social and economic dividends.
These include greater respect for other important freedoms essential to a well-functioning liberal democracy such as freedom of the press, speech and assembly.