KIGALI - Thousands of Muslims yesterday thronged Nyamirambo Regional Stadium to celebrate and observe Eid el-Fitr which also marked the end of the Islamic Holy Month of Ramadhan.
The ceremony which was characterized by prayers was presided over by the head of the Islamic community in the country, Mufti Sheikh Swaleh Habimana.
Addressing the gathering, Habimana centred his preaching on the significance of Eid, the Islamic faith as well as fasting and also took time to call upon the Muslim community to take a leading role in developing the nation and actively support national policies.
In a message from the government, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Louise Mushikiwabo thanked Rwanda’s Muslims for their prayers and actions that contributed to maintaining peace and stability during the recent campaign and elections.
She congratulated the community for their achievements, particularly in promoting unity, as well as in education and health projects. She called on the members of the Muslim community to remain vigilant and to resist any attempts by extremist elements who seek to destabilise Rwanda and its neighbouring countries.
Minister Mushikiwabo pledged the continued support of the government in the community’s efforts.
The Mufti affirmed the bond between the Islamic community in Rwanda and President Paul Kagame’s government pointing out that the religion has grown strong in terms of social cohesion.
He attributed the growth of the Islamic community to President Kagame’s leadership and the stable co-existence of Islam and Christianity.
“We glorify the Almighty God for enabling us, for the first time, to venture into the health sector and soon we will inaugurate one of the best health centres in Kigali, after which we will start building more hospitals across the country,” he said.
The Mufti added that normally, a good soul needs to sit in a healthy body.
“We therefore want to ensure that all Muslims are as healthy as possible to be able to work harder and be able to send their children to school and be good citizens to subsequently form a strong Islamic community in this country.”
Habimana condemned in the strongest terms the recent attempt by an American pastor, Terry Jones, to burn copies of the Holy Quran and warned the action could arouse some radicals and trigger chaos.
“I would like to advise him that his attempt to burn the Quran would give an opportunity to those they call radicals, because normally, radicalism thrives in the climate of chaos, hopelessness and hatred, he said.
In a new twist, the American pastor announced yesterday that he had reversed his plan to burn the Holy Book following rising condemnation and criticism.
He was due to burn the Quran today on September 11, the commemoration day for the World Trade Centre bombings in 2001.