The Ex-Detainees Of Guantanamo Bay: COMOG’s Position
We, the Coalition of Muslim Organizations, Ghana (COMOG) recognize views expressed by all well-meaning Ghanaians on the transfer of two former Guantanamo Bay prisoners, Mahmoud Omar Mohammed Bin Atef (36 years) and Khalid Shayk Mohammed (34 years), and appreciate people’s apprehensions of a perceived terror threat the two pose on our national security, particularly, this time when the country is going through crises that present security challenge to the government. In the same vein, we welcome government’s responses and continuous efforts put forth in managing these crises, and finding a final solution to them.
We are, however, of the view that the raging controversies and exchanges in the media over Government’s acceptance of the two ex-detainees in Ghana, rather pose a greater threat to the country’s peace and security, if it is not handled with the needed restraint, circumspection and unity of purpose, in order to find a lasting solution that will serve our overall national interests, and ultimately guarantee our security, boost our international relations and diplomacy.
The strong language and tone of statements on the issue have the tendency to divide us, especially on religious lines, rather than unite us as one people seeking a permanent solution to a national problem. Furthermore, such unguarded statements may portray Ghanaians as insensitive and hostile to people in distress, and that in our view, is inconsistent with our highly recognized hospitality credential, and therefore, does not augur well for our national and individual security.
It is our candid opinion that the entrenched positions, based on political and religious affiliations characterized by emotional outbursts would not help matters. Whether or not our Government has actually entered into a secret deal with the US Government, as is being speculated in some of the statements, the hard fact still remains that the two persons are already here in Ghana with us.
The question now is: How do we handle and manage the issue in such a way as to arrive at a solution that would safeguard our national interests, and guard against decision that may jeopardize the peace and tranquility that exist today in Ghana?
As an umbrella Muslim organization, COMOG remains committed to our duties, as Muslims, towards the two human beings in distress, in terms of their needs, welfare, religious freedom, as long as they remain in Ghana. These are responsibilities and duties enjoined on us, as Muslim community, consistent with the tenets of Islam. In much the same measure, we are obliged as a national duty to uphold and defend the sovereignty of Ghana against its enemies and saboteurs. The decision to admit the two ex-detainees into the country, however, falls outside our purview and, perhaps, that of other religious leaders, especially when those leaders are not privy to any prior negotiations, discussions or details of any alleged deals. Decisions taken seemed to have been the sole responsibility of political leaders, acting on professional advice from security experts.
While we respect the divergent views expressed by all well-meaning Ghanaians whose comments reflect their patriotism and concern for the peace the country is enjoying, we think that the heated political and religious undertones in some of these comments are not in harmony with sustaining the security of the country, which must remain paramount in this matter. COMOG would like to appeal to all and sundry to halt all media engagements, discussions and contributions on the issue, and would therefore, want to recommend the following to the government:
- Appoint a technical committee that is national in character, to collate all suggestions, views, and contributions from civil societies, corporate bodies, religious entities and general public.
- The committee must be composed of neutral, credible and non-partisan eminent personalities with security, legal, diplomatic and international relations backgrounds.
- The committee should carry out its deliberations in camera within a specified period, and should be provided with all available information on the issue, including details of the deal, and the accurate personal profiles of the two detainees.
- Submit report with specific recommendations that would satisfy all interest groups and individual aspirations, guided and driven by national interest considerations which override all partisan, religious and parochial interests.
COMOG would urge all and sundry, especially media practitioners, to help end the media war and direct all correspondence, comments, suggestions and recommendations to the proposed Technical Committee if and when constituted.
We, the Coalition of Muslim Organizations, Ghana (COMOG) are not oblivious of nations devastated by wars and conflicts, fuelled by religious intolerance and sectarian dogmatism. We, therefore, wish to assure all doubting Thomases, that we are conscious of our collective and individual responsibilities to save our religion and country from any extremist influences and tendencies, and would jealously guard the harmony and peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Christians, as well as peace and security the nation is currently enjoying.
May the Almighty Allah continue to bless us all with sustainable peace and security, and may we continue to live together in peace as brothers and sisters in the service of our one and only Supreme Creator, the Almighty God. Amen.
Haj Abdel Manan Abdel Rahman
Dr Husein Zakaria