14.12.2007 General News

The Hajj: Government must take over

By Accra Mail
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We are afraid this year's Hajj has proved once again that Ghana's Muslims are incapable of handling this important pillar of their religion all by themselves.

At the time of writing yesterday, it was still not clear whether Ghanaian Muslims can make the pilgrimage this year. This has come about as a result of many factors which we do not intend to repeat here.

In fact for many years now ADM has expended several column inches on the subject and either those targeted do (did) not read or just don't give a damn. Our entreaties, pleas, warnings, advice had all fallen on deaf ears and our worst fears are now being realized.

In light of this year's looming fiasco, we wish to recommend a government takeover of the organization. This is because of all religions, it is only Islam that makes pilgrimage an important component of faith and adherents are expected to perform it at least once in their life time if they can afford it. It is therefore a national issue. It transcends mere individual faith.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia revolves more or less around the Hajj and expends hundreds of millions of US dollars to make it as endurable as possible for pilgrims numbering sometimes around 3 million souls who visit the kingdom in one huge mass to perform the Hajj. The Saudi government has accepted this obligation and deals with all countries that have contingents on a government to government basis with quotas, official delegations, consular services, etc. That is why our government must reciprocate likewise.

Things would be streamlined if government intervened and assumed a supervisory role with a Hajj Commission under the Ministry of Culture. Such a move should help bring some order to this perennial national disgrace.

After all, since time immemorial, government has been using taxpayer money to bail out Hajj shortfalls.

For that reason alone, it has the moral authority and patriotic duty to have a say in how the Hajj is managed. When things go wrong, the government could then in good conscience accept blame, but also be in a position to use its vast resources and networks to stem whatever chaos ensues.

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