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03.11.2008 Religion

Hajj saga out of court - factions reach truce

By myjoyonline
Hajj saga out of court - factions reach truce

Asomah Banda speaks to Joy News

The Interim Hajj Management Committee, the panel put together by the National Chief Imam has the sole responsibility to organise this year's holy pilgrimage to Mecca.

This follows an out-of-court settlement of the dispute between the National Hajj Council and the interim body.

Both Muslim factions had laid claim to the right to organise this year's pilgrimage resulting in a court suit, but a senior Muslim, Alhaji Asoma Banda intervened.

Alhaji Banda told an Accra Fast Track High Court Monday morning that both parties had reached an agreement that the Interim Hajj Committee should be the sole organiser of this year's Hajj.

He decided to mediate in the matter because he deemed it unhealthy for the Chief Imam to hit the dock to testify in a case that smacked of infighting in the Muslim fraternity.

“I've been working day and night; I've been talking to all the factions and then they came to understand that we should have amicable settlement,” he noted.

He said that none of the parties had been coerced into the deal; both saw the need to ensure a successful Islamic ritual this year.

The National Hajj Council's Alhaji Mohammed Frimpong expressed delight at the agreement.

He, however, said there was a need for a national policy to ensure that the pilgrimage in future will not be fraught with problems.

“We still want a format that will allow the Muslim community to actually be in charge and take control, however, Hajj is organised without prejudice to whichever government or whatever will come into control next year.

“But it is Muslims who are a majority beneficiaries of how Hajj is organised. So we don't want anybody to hijack that one in their own interest and self-gain,” he said.

He said the council was only seeking judicial framework to streamline the organisation of programme in the country.

“If references could be made…judicial thinking and direction could be made then it saves all of us,” he noted.

The head of operations of the Interim Hajj Committee, Alhaji Osman English assured Muslims that this year's pilgrimage would be one of the best organised.

He said the committee had already secured accommodation facilities in Mecca while Egypt Air has promised to organise eight charter flights to airlift the pilgrims.

The first batch of pilgrims, he said, would be airborne by November 18, 2008.

Story by Fiifi Koomson

[Joy Newsroom contributed reporting]