The Attorney-General (AG), Godfred Yeboah Dame, says the Chief Imam, His Eminence Sheikh Osman Sharubutu plays an important role in ensuring that Ghana remains a beacon of democracy.
The AG on Tuesday was joined by Justice of the Supreme Court, His Lordship Justice Tanko, the Solicitor-General Mrs Helen Akpene Ziwu, leadership of the Forum of Ghanaian Muslim Lawyers and other high ranking lawyers to honour an invitation by the Muslim Cleric.
The National Chief Imam had invited the Attorney-General as part of efforts to engage selected opinion leaders on the brewing tension within the Muslim community arising out of recent incidents in Ghana suggesting perceived intolerance of sections of Ghanaian society for Islamic practices, and how to chart a path towards the amicable resolution of those issues.
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Expressing his pleasure at the invitation, Mr Dame paid tribute to the important role played by the Chief Imam in solidifying the credentials of Ghana as a beacon of development, rule of law and respect for human rights in Africa.
Speaking on the question of religious tolerance in educational institutions, the Attorney-General stated that the laws of Ghana fully recognises the freedom of all persons to manifest their religion and such freedom ought to be upheld even within the context of institutionalised practices by some missionary schools.
This, he said, was achievable and that his office will work with the Ghana Education Service to fashion out regulations governing the conduct of education and promotion of discipline in all pre-tertiary institutions which reflect the true values of tolerance enshrined in the Constitution of Ghana.
In the view of Mr Dame: “Constitutional conventions and norms must be modeled to serve the basic needs of Ghana in accordance with the ever-evolving demands of society.”
Touching on the question of the succession plan for the Chief Imam, the Attorney-General stated emphatically that it is not in the place of the state to have an interest or say in how religious bodies choose their leadership.
Doing so, according to him, would result in “excessive entanglement of the State in religious affairs”. The state’s intervention in religious affairs, he said, must be limited to enabling religious bodies manifest their beliefs freely and without any inhibition, as it currently does with facilitating the Hajj pilgrimage and the ongoing construction of a national cathedral.
On his part, the Chief Imam expressed his joy in seeing a young man of the AG’s stature ascend to such an eminent office of the land and exhibiting wisdom, vision and progressive understanding of matters of law and development.
He said the caliber of the Attorney-General is the kind of leaders Ghana needs. The Chief Imam took the opportunity to pray for God’s guidance and rich support for the AG and thanked him for expressing his commitment to work towards amicably resolving the current impasse threatening religious tolerance, inclusion, and equity in some missionary schools.