We need constitutional law experts to clarify unambiguously where the Ghanaian constitution stands on freedom of religion; whether an individual’s freedom to
practise a religion of his or her choice overrides the freedoms of other citizens, or whether freedom of religion takes cognisance of other citizens’ freedoms ?
recent proliferation of churches and, to a less extent, mosques in suburbs in Accra has led to an increasing number of people living close to churches and mosques, and to these people being subjected to unacceptable noise levels from churches and mosques.
We read about people regularly subjected to very loud prayer sessions late nights and early mornings by Christian groups in complete disregard for the right of these people to a quiet night’s sleep. There was also the reported case of a Member of Parliament who had to call the police to intervene because a church service near his residence got very loud. Instead of the pastor
Then, there are the loud calls to prayer by imams at about
However, he is denied any sleep because he lives about 150
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In effect, the legal clarification is to remind religious institutions of their responsibilities under freedom of religion, and empower victims of unbearable religious noise to take a stand and complain to their MPs. To be fair, not all imams turn the megaphones on very loud and not all Christian institutions sing or pray loud
Given this atmosphere, I was excited when the Minister of Environment, Science
Are they implying therefore that non-Muslims just have to put up with the irritating calls to prayer or that no way should be sought to balance these calls to prayer and the right to peace and quiet for others? Fortunately, not all Muslims were hostile in their responses. An Imam was reported to have welcomed the idea of WhatsApp but for the fact that he was not paid as an Imam and could not afford the data cost.
It is time to curb excessive noise from all sources and I believe we should start with religious noise, because religious noise, like the low hanging fruit, could be tackled first as it would require dealing with the Christian Council and its Islamic equivalent and probably a few imams and priests. My hope is for a genuine bi-partisan discussion about religious noise and how to reduce it while reminding all citizens that Ghana is a secular state. However, given the toxic partisan politics in the country, my fear is that the issue will be turned into a partisan game by politicians pandering to religious leaders for electoral advantage.
I have been reminded of an African country that closed nuisance churches and banned calls to prayer with no apparent impact on attendance at mosques while providing a significant dividend in terms of peace and quiet for all citizens.