Hundreds of Muslim men, women and children marched the streets of Takoradi to Sekondi on Friday, in protest against what they claim to be human rights violations and discrimination in the practice of their Islamic faith.
The march dubbed “March and rally for freedom” was under the auspices of the Western Regional Chief Imam, Western Regional Imam of Ahlussunna Wal Jama and the Regional Council of Muslim Chiefs.
According to the group, “Muslim students are being coerced into attending compulsory church services in most of the second cycle institutions in the country, some other schools are preventing Muslim students from observing their five daily prayers on campus, whilst Muslim female students are being prevented from observing their hijab on campus.”
In a statement issued and signed by Saeed Hamid Jalo, Convener of the demonstration said “Muslim professionals, such as nurses, bankers, those in the public and civil services are also being prevented from observing their hijab”.
This and other issues of human right violations necessitated the coming together of all Muslim institutions and organizations in forming the Muslim Right Front, a civil right organization that has vowed to ensure that the right of the Muslim is respected by both individuals and institutions.
The march saw hundreds of men, women, and teenagers dressed in various Muslim apparels carried placards as they marched from the Airforce Base in Takoradi, to the Western Regional Coordinating Council in Sekondi to meet the Regional Minister.
Young Muslim ladies, who wore their hijab fully leaving only their eyes, carried a banner with the inscription, ‘Hijab is my dignity’ ‘Hijab is freedom’ Hijab, my right my choice’. Amidst the rally, a brief rally was held where some Muslim leaders addressed the teeming crowd reminding them to demand for their right through peace and dialogue.
The march, which started peacefully, witnessed a violent scene at the premises of the Regional Coordinating Council. According to the demonstrators, it had been arranged that the Minister was to receive the petition at the Gyandu Park, near the Minister’s residence.
As a result, they were furious when they arrived at the park for minutes and the Minister had not appeared; a situation which made them feel rejected.
The angry demonstrators forcibly entered the main gate to the RCC, outnumbering and overpowering police personnel detailed to guard them.
When they finally entered the residence, the Regional Minister, Paul Evans Aidoo, appeared to calm them down and received the petition with a promise to forward it to the President.
The demonstrators also called on Muslim members of Parliament to rally support behind them.
In a related development, Government through the Ministry of Communication has condemned the practice where some Muslims are denied from practicing their faith in schools and workplaces, describing it as unconstitutional.
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