Story: Kwame Asare Boadu, Kumasi
THE Ghana Muslim Mission in the Ashanti Region has offered its fullest support to the Minister of the Interior, Mr Kwamena Bartels, in his resolve to ensure that those whose actions and inaction led to the near collapse of the 2007 Hajj are punished.
At a news conference in Kumasi to state their position on the Hajj crisis, the mission registered its condemnation of the way the Hajj was organised and said it was important that the minister who had shown concern for the troubles the Muslims went through, was encouraged and supported to get to the bottom of the matter to prevent a recurrence.
Alhaji Musah Kofi Nuamah, the Regional Secretary of the mission, who read the press statement, praised President Kufuor for his timely intervention, following an appeal to him by the National Chief Imam. That intervention prevented what would have been a disaster for Muslims in the country with regard to the 2007 Hajj.
To ensure that future Hajj are organised devoid of the hardships, the regional secretary called for the decentralisation of Hajj operations to avoid some of the problems that continue to bedevil the event.
He said operational offices should be established in each region and staffed with salaried officers to operate under the National Hajj Committee.
Alhaji Nuamah said the regional offices could serve as information centres where prospective pilgrims could access information that would facilitate the pilgrimage.
He also stressed the need for the interim Hajj Committee, which organised the 2006 and 2007 Hajj to be made to account for their stewardship.
Again, he said the Ghana Muslim Mission would want to see a Hajj committee that was devoid of ethnicity but made up of identifiable Islamic groupings, including the mission and a representative of the government, to help put things right.
Alhaji Nuamah indicated that the Hajj Committee should not necessarily be composed of Muslims but anybody who was capable of facing the challenges.
He said that in The Gambia for instance, a Ghanaian Christian organised the pilgrimage for the Muslims and everything went on well.
Present at the news conference was Alhaji Sheikh Ibrahim Alka, Regional Imam, and Sheikh Hassan Oteng, executive member of the Ghana Muslim Mission.