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08.03.2015 Opinion

Religious ‘Rape’

By Zibrim Mohammed Zia-ulhak
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The phenomenon of forced indoctrination and imposition of Christian religious practices on Muslim students in Christian mission schools cannot be described in any better term than to be considered as religious 'rape'. Rape is defined as forcing someone into having sexual intercourse against their will, including the use of violence – Macmillan English Dictionary. The treatment meted out to Muslims students in Christian mission schools is not any different from rape and that is why I refer to it as religious 'rape'. The religious tyranny and ambush of Muslim students must stop!!!

Over the years, many people across the world have had to face many challenges and persecution. These are mostly fueled by ethnicity, nepotism, xenophobia, tribalism racial discrimination, religion intolerance and so on. Typical examples in history and even in recent times are the apartheid regime in South Africa, the Rwandan war, the Biafran war, the holocaust, the civil rights struggle in the United States of America and the unending fight against racism and racial discrimination the world over. These are mostly occasioned by one group of people regarding themselves as 'better' than others. Here in Ghana, there are tribal and religious confrontations that are fueled by such ill thoughts.

We continue to complain about the way the black race is disregarded across the world in one breath, and in another breath we delightfully treat people of other religious leanings with the same disdain. We blatantly force students of Islamic and other faiths to worship with Christians in the name of 'morning devotion'. This is not different from racial discrimination. It is simply religious torture, not to mention the social, emotional and psychological trauma that these students are forced to go through. It is simply oppressive, unacceptable and barbaric in my opinion. I don't know of any Islamic institution in this country where Christian students are forced to worship with Muslims in any form. Be it morning devotion or service or whatever you want to call it. These things used to happen in the medieval and pre-historic times. To think that up to this day and age people are still forced to worship with others in a manner that is against their will is simply shocking. It is unbelievable!!!

Peace has eluded many countries of the world because of ethnic, tribal, racial and religious intolerance. Examples could be mentioned of Nigeria, Bosnia, Somalia, Columbia, Sri-Lanka, Liberia, La Cote D'Ivoire, Syria, Iraq, Israel and Palestine and so on. This is the last thing that any Ghanaian wants to happen to this country. As a Muslim, I believe it is in the interest of peace and tranquility that everybody's religious rights are respected. People should be entitled to their religious beliefs. No one should be forced to undergo any worship or devotion against their will. We must begin to look at issues in a broader perspective. We cannot rejoice when other people's rights are being trampled upon and cry foul when we become the victims in other instances. The tables could turn someday. I believe that when they do, it will be our expectations as human beings to be treated with respect regarding our rights as we have done or are doing to others. After all, that is what most religions of the world teach.

One other issue that is worrying is the persecution of female Muslims in hijabs by heads of some institutions. It is fine with me that people do not have problems with catholic nuns wearing their apostolniks or epimandylions. I think that female Muslims should be accorded the same courtesies. What even terrifies me more is the nudity of other women that are displayed on the streets, in class rooms, at public gatherings and even at work places and nobody seems to have a problem with that. I know that the hijab does not affect the quality of the individuals work or performance in anyway. To that extent, I do not understand why anybody should have a problem with that. The bigger problem is staring us right in the face and that is the recent surge in indecent dressing among the young women of today. I do not think the hijab is the problem. Some people are just very intolerant when it comes to issues of religion. Pure and simple!!!

Many are of the opinion that “when you go to Rome, you should do what the romans do”. I want to stay clear of undermining the reasoning of anybody. But it is common knowledge that not every citizen of Rome is a catholic. There is room in Rome for people with alternative religious beliefs. Nobody is forced or coerced to worship in the ways of the catholic faith and that is civility in my humble opinion. We should take lessons from that in order foster religious tolerance and national unity in this country.

And about our national constitution, it is my humble opinion that we do not need a constitution to mandate us to tolerate the beliefs of others. It is common sense that should guide us in all our life endeavors. One of the tenets of humanity is to understand that every single human being is unique and different. We cannot expect everybody to think the way we do or believe in the same things that we do. We must as human beings create room where ever we find ourselves to accommodate others. Be it their opinions on issues or their religious inclinations. This principle cannot be compromised in any way.

It is my wish and prayer that Islamic and other religious beliefs should not form the bases for denying Muslim students or others admission into Christian mission schools in future. That will start an era of hatred and mistrust amongst people of the various religions in Ghana. I cannot imagine what the future of Ghana will be like if such practices are allowed.

My humble appeal is that we should always let common sense lead us all the time. No religious tyranny, no religious ambush and no religious 'rape'.

By: Zibrim Mohammed Zia-ulhak Pharmacy Student – KNUST Contact: [email protected] 0244048808, 0269264601, 0501382247

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