The chief executive officer of Premium Debit Consult, a Ghana-based pro-Islamic organization, told VOA the first national Muslim awards scheduled for Friday aims to change negative perceptions of practicing Muslims in that country.
Laurat Pessah said there is a need to promote, in her words, a high level of positive self-spirit and confidence in the youth to realize their full potential.
“The theme for this event is ‘Empowering the Youth’ to create awareness and to let the Muslim youth know that they have people they can emulate. The awards cut across (various disciplines, including) health and institutions that are helping the Muslim communities,” said Pessah.
“The need for (the awards) is to change (negative) perceptions about the Muslim youth and the Muslim community. This is a secular country and we are not trying to draw a line between Islam and Christianity. We co-exist nicely, but we are trying to say that we want the Muslim youth, in particular, to look at the people (Muslims) that have excelled in their field of work.”
Invited guests for the first national Muslim award named “Bismillahir– Rahmaanir–Rahiim” include Ghana’s Vice President, John Mahama, former Presidents Jerry Rawlings and John Kufuor, as well as members of the diplomatic corps.
Sheikh Osmam Nuhu Sharabutu, Ghana’s national chief imam, is expected to be the chairman of the ceremony.
Pessah said Friday’s event will award individuals and organizations that have had a positive impact on the teachings and values of Islam across the country.
“(This is) to stop unemployment in the Muslim community. If you go in the streets of Accra, (the) majority of beggars you find there are Muslims and we want to change this perception,” said Pessah.
“Despite the tremendous contributions of Muslims to Ghana’s democratic, education and economic successes, the country on the whole has been unable to highlight these achievements into appreciable positive light.”
She said the goal of the awards is to provide outstanding Muslims as role models for Muslim youths so they may realize their full potential, to sensitize Muslim youths to live lives of dignity and contribute their quota to developing their communities and Ghana. Pessah also said they are aimed at creating the awareness that Islamic teachings and values are the best way to success in life.