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Last Updated: Aug 26th, 2011 - 17:22:11 
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EDITORIALS  

We need to improve our religious tolerance!
By
Aug 26, 2011, 17:06
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It is an indisputable fact that Sierra Leone is a very religious country. The beauty is that Sierra Leone, unlike other countries, has a high level of religious tolerance. Research has however shown that the level of Sierra Leones religious tolerance is not that high as most people perceived.

 

One school of thought says Sierra Leone is not a secular state where Islam and Christianity are intricately involved in every facet of society. However, the other school of thought believes that Sierra Leone is a secular state where these two major religions are not spiritually and religiously linked to society in general.

 

The lack of a religious legislation on tolerance will only exacerbates the different perceptions held by many organisations in the country.  The Awareness Times believes secularism is very visible in one facet of society and clearly unnoticeable in other sectors in Sierra Leone. 

 

Here is one fact about religious tolerance! The Sierra Leone Government is noted for observing both Christian and Islamic religions during political conferences. Christian and Muslim leaders are always requested to offer prayers before our Presidents could address the nation.

 

Another religious tolerance about Sierra Leone is the unique position of always observing both Islamic and Christian holidays! Though 70 per cent of Sierra Leoneans have Muslim backgrounds, yet both Christians and Muslims have high respect for each other during their respective religious festivities like Christmas, Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr (Pray day).

 

Nevertheless, the Awareness Times believes religious tolerance in Sierra Leone is very limited. Lets take a closer look at our educational institutions and non-governmental organisations for instance. Many employers do not allow their staff to put on any of their religious attires in the offices. Banks, airlines and other institutions forbid the wearing of Muslim hijabs and even forbid long beards.

 

This newspaper believes the absence of religious discrimination laws in Sierra Leone is partly responsible for this. Few months ago in Britain, a pious Christian female staff of the British Airways was forbidden to wear her cross necklace as it contravenes the airlines dress code. The lady refused to remove it and she was sacked. She took the British Airways to court for religious discrimination. Guess what, she won and a religious tolerance precedent was set in the United Kingdom.

 

During the weekly Prime Ministers Question Time in the British House of Commons, a female Muslim member of parliament is always seen proudly wearing their hijab. If this could be allowed in Britain, where less than 10 per cent of citizens are Muslims, we cannot see any reason why it could not be done here.

 

Pay a courtesy call to Catholic and Muslim schools in Sierra Leone you will be confronted with religious intolerance of unbelievable proportion. Both these schools do not allow students of either faith to wear any of their religious garments in school. This is a clear indication of religious intolerance!

 

The Awareness Times is therefore calling on the government to legislate religious discrimination laws as well as our Christian and Muslim leaders to see how best they could improve religious tolerance in Sierra Leone. This newspaper wishes all Muslims a Happy Ramadan Mubarak!


© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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