President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo yesterday joined Muslims to celebrate this year’s Eid-ul-Fitr, with the assurance that the security agencies will deal with those who would want to incite hatred whether in the name of Islam or Christianity.
He said the current situation where people of different religious persuasions had every opportunity to worship without hindrance in the country had become the envy of many in the West African sub-region.
Such an envious environment, the President said, could be protected when Ghanaians did not become complacent but guarded against troublemakers and hate preachers in the name of religion.
Addressing a large number of Muslims who congregated at the Black Star Square, President Akufo-Addo appealed to Ghanaians not to be complacent but remain vigilant and jealously guard the prevailing religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence of people of different faiths.
Eid-ul-Fitr is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims around the globe to mark the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. It is the first and only day in the month of Shawwal during which Muslims are not permitted to fast.
The holiday marks the conclusion of the 29 or 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fast during the entire month of Ramadan.
The President interspersed his speech with quotes from Prophet Mohammed from the Holy Quran to support his pieces of advice to the people on issues such as peace, coexistence and, education of the girl-child.
Some Muslims praying at the Black Star Square in Accra
Sporting a long-sleeved white shirt with an African print design over a pair of black trousers, the President said for Muslims to live up to the real meaning of their religion, the faithful must embrace one another irrespective of religious differences.
He stated that the fasting and prayers the people had gone through would be of no effect if they failed to let the meaning of Ramadan reflect in their daily activities.
President Akufo-Addo said as a vivid exhibition of religious tolerance and diversity, his vice, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, was a Muslim and that his Cabinet was also made up of people from the Muslim and Christian faiths, adding that prayers of both religions were said at each Cabinet sitting.
The President indicated that just as he promised at last year’s celebration that he was going to set up the Zongo Development Fund, he had redeemed that pledge with the setting up of the fund which was inaugurated on June 11, 2018 with a prominent Muslim as a chairman of its board.
He said already, the Minister of Inner City and Zongo Development, Alhaji Boniface Abubakar Saddique, had hit the ground running with the execution of some development projects in some areas under his jurisdiction and cited the dredging of the Pelele River at Asawase in Kumasi and the construction of a big drain in the same community as examples.
As part of measures to ensure that the Zongos continued to provide talented athletes, especially iconic footballers such as Baba Yara, Dogo Moro, Muhammed Salisu, Mohammed Polo, Abdul Razak, Abedi Pele and Mohammed Gago, among many others, the President stated that the Minister of Inner City and Zongo Development had started a comprehensive programme that would aid the development of the talents of the young in the Zongo communities.
Quoting portions of the Holy Quran to support his call for education, he said just as Prophet Mohammed stated that Muslims must seek knowledge even if it meant travelling to China, the President said one could not be a Muslim and remain ignorant.
It was partly for those reasons that the government had embarked on the Free Senior High School policy for people of all social and economic standing to be educated at no cost, he explained.
The President reiterated his call on the importance of the education of the girl-child and urged Muslim leaders and parents to offer the same importance they attached to the education of the boy-child to that of the girl-child.
The President presented GH¢20,000 to the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Dr Osman Nuhu Sharubutu, GH¢5,000 to the Planning Committee of the Eid-ul-Fitr and another GH¢5,000 to the Muslim chiefs.