KIGALI - As hundreds of thousands of Rwandan Moslems celebrated the end of Ramadhan yesterday, their Mufti, Sheik Saleh Harelimana said that the country’s Moslems have a lot to thank God and government for, their lives having tremendously improved since the end of the 1994 genocide.
Citing the fact that the country’s Moslem community so far has its own radio station and website while Moslems used to be discriminated against since colonial rule up to the collapse of a ‘discriminatory regime’ in 1994, Sheik Harerimana said that the people he represents have reasons to be thankful.
“The whole grief we experienced along different times of our history came to an end after 1994. We thank God for the way Moslems’ lives have been improving and we see that our President’s teaching of tolerance and love among Rwandans is yielding fruits,” he said, explaining that the current Rwandan government deserves recognition for having brought Moslems back into society.
He said that Moslems used to be forced to live in designated areas under the laws of the country during colonization and the practice of discriminating against them whether in schools or at work did not change under the post-colonial leadership.
“Moslems used to be locked into different camps and they would travel in the country using written passes given to them by the colonialists. The same passes had to be held by those who wanted to visit them,” he explained as he cited areas like Mugandamure in Nyanza District and Nyamirambo in Kigali City as examples of where Moslems were forced to live.
Most Moslems who lived in Rwanda say that there is a big difference in their lives due to the way they are guaranteed equal rights like other Rwandans.
Abdul-Jahar Gakuba, a journalist with Moslems’ Voice of Africa radio station in Kigali who was born and still lives in the country, said that Moslems are today found in schools, in high level decision making institutions and they are doing different kinds of business.
“They[Moslems] are trying to develop themselves and they now consider themselves as able to be part of different levels of the country’s life,” he said.
Mufti Harerimana said that during the Ramadhan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, Rwandan Moslems helped vulnerable groups in the country in different ways and they hope to continue doing so even after the Idd el-Fitri celebrations.
According to Sheik Harerimana, as the Moslem community celebrated the end of their holy month, the main message for them and for all Rwandans in general is to continue promoting love and tolerance.
“They should keep up with the love and remember to always be thankful to whoever does well for them,” he urged fellow Moslems and Rwandans in general.
The Mufti said that the number of the country’s Moslems is estimated at 3.5 percent of the population.