The government has warned that it will sanction the heads of any institution, including schools and workplaces, that compel Muslim women and girls to remove their hijab.
This follows media reports that Muslim women and girls are being forced to take off their hijab, a traditional covering worn by Muslim women over their heads to the neck and sometimes their face in public, including workplaces and schools.
In a statement that condemned such violations, the Minister of Communications, Dr Edward Omane Boamah, said heads of institutions found contravening that basic constitutional right would be sanctioned.
The statement, however, fell short of stating the kind of punishment that would be meted out to those who violate the directive.
“We consider it not only as religious intolerance, but also a breach of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, for Muslim students to be forced to take off their hijabs in schools.
“In much the same way, it is unacceptable for Muslim students to be forced to attend church services in schools, especially when it seeks to introduce those students to a religion, which they may not subscribe to, nor be adherents of,” the statement said.
It noted further that it was the government’s position that Muslim women must be allowed, and not forced to take off their hijabs at work, to the extent that their wearing them did not pose a danger to themselves or to others on the job.
The statement said under Article 21(1)(c) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, ‘all persons shall have the right to freedom to practise any religion and to manifest such practice’.
“Given that the constitution guarantees, as part of the fundamental freedoms, the freedom of ‘any religion and to manifest such practice’, it would be wrong to force any individual to abandon her/ his faith. It is equally wrong to force Muslim women and girls to disrobe or take off their hijabs at their places of work or schools,” it added.