Ghana’s National Security Coordinator, Yaw Donkor, has sought to calm nerves over Islamic preacher, Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips’ presence in Ghana.
A report about Dr Bilal Philips’ activities in Ghana has generated debate following revelations that he had been banned by the US, UK and Australia, claiming he preached extremism.
He was deported from the Philippines in September 2014, Kenya in 2012, and Bangladesh in June 2014, where he had been invited to address an Islamic conference.
Sheik Philips is said to have written: “Western culture, led by the United States, is the enemy of Islam.” The US Government named him as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the 1993 bombing that killed six people and injured 1,000. He was deported from the US in 2004 – [Quoted from the Sun Herald Newspaper in the UK].
Sheik Philips’ activities in Ghana as advertised on his official Facebook page, started from 4th February and ends on 12th February. His programmes have taken place in various parts of Accra and in Kumasi, specifically at the KNUST.
He is expected to be in Tamale for another lecture at the Tamale Jubilee Park today [Monday] February 8, titled “Islamic Identity Under Globalization” between 8:00 and 11:00pm.
At the Tamale UDS on the 9th, he will hold another lecture titled “Islam and Media: Enemies or Foes” from 10:00am-12:00pm. He has already delivered lectures on the theme “Insurgency In God’s Name: Revelation or Rebellion”.
Speaking to Graphic Online on his activities in the country, the National Security Coordinator, Yaw Donkor, said it was not sufficient enough for Ghana to deny him visa on the basis that some countries had banned him entry over unproven allegations.
Mr. Donkor said: “If the one who sponsored him comes to ask us ‘why are you refusing him Visa’, what are we going to tell him? Are we going to tell him that because Czechoslovakia deported him, we don’t want him to come to Ghana or because Germany says that the man has written a book that is talking about anti-Semitism, we don’t want him to come [to Ghana]. How can you use that reason to refuse a visa to a sovereign country?”
Mr. Donkor however noted that the Islamic preacher was being monitored by security agents, and had so far, not said anything inflammatory or engaged in any diabolical activity in Ghana.
“So, as far as I’m concerned, since he entered this country, he hasn’t said anything that requires me to take any action against him,” he said.
According to the National Security Coordinator, since Christian preachers had been allowed to visit Ghana and speak freely, it would have been unfair and dangerous to have prevented Dr. Philips from doing same.
“We should be careful. He is not here on his own. Thirty percent of this country is listening to him or they think he came because of them. If you have no reason to throw him out, you are going to create a problem by your own action. So we should watch it that way,” he told Graphic Online.
Terrorism allegations false
Dr. Bilal Philips has repeatedly denied connections to terrorists insisting the west led by America, is only demonizing him.
In a letter he personally wrote while in detention in the Philippines where he was later deported for the same accusations, he accused the western media of sensational journalism meant to portray him as evil.
In his letter, he denied most of the allegations made against him, saying Germany for instance had not banned him as had been reported, and that he won a lawsuit against the Mayor of Frankfurt who unilaterally attempted to deport him over terrorism allegations.
He said in all the places he has been banned including the US, there has not been any evidence to prove that he is linked to terrorists or that he promotes terrorism, insisting his teachings of peace rather seeks to eliminate extremist ideas among Muslims particularly the youth.
His personal letter was published on September 13, 2014, on an Islamic website muslimmatters.org. Dr. Bilal Philips aside his conferences, uses social media platforms such as YouTube, Twitter and others, effectively, to propagate his teachings.
His official Facebook page currently has over 4.3 million likes, and he runs what he calls an Online Islamic University where he offers free tuition and certificates to Muslims who enrol.
Several Muslim leaders and human rights advocates believe Philips has done nothing wrong to merit deportation.
“This harassment by the authorities against Dr. Philips is an act to dishonour a visitor of Muslims in Mindanao. Being prevented from visiting to preach to his Muslim brothers and sisters in Mindanao is a form of religious persecution,” Mindanao Human Rights Action Center executive director Bobby Benito said. On his Facebook page, which has more than 4 million followers, Philips is described as a former Christian who converted to Islam in 1972.
He was born in Jamaica but grew up in Canada. Philips took Arabic courses and completed his degree at the College of Islamic Disciplines at the Islamic University of Madeenah and he took his masters in Islamic Theology at the University of Riyadh. In 1994, Philips finished his doctorate degree in Islamic Theology at the Islamic Studies department at the University of Wales.
His Facebook page also claimed that Philips taught at the Islamic Studies department of Shariff Kabunsuan Islamic University in Cotabato City.
Philips is currently a lecturer for Islamic Studies and Arabic at the American University in Dubai and the Ajman University at the United Arab Emirates.