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Congolese Muslims cross into Rwanda for Eid al-Fitr prayers

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The Congolese Muslim community joined their Rwandan counterparts on Wednesday, April 10, in Rubavu District for Eid al-Fitr prayers at Umuganda Stadium.

This followed a statement issued by the administration of Goma town where Muslims were encouraged to celebrate Eid al-Fitr from their mosques but were denied access to stadiums for security reasons.

Some Congolese Muslims declined to speak to the media, but a few expressed joy in celebrating Eid al-Fitr with their Rwandese neighbours in Rubavu.

“I’m really happy that I managed to join other Muslims here and appreciate the way they welcomed us. It was not possible to pray in Goma but I’m really grateful,” said one Abdul, who preferred to use only his first name. “Rwanda is a peaceful country; we prayed in peace, and frankly speaking, everything went as arranged.”

“I am grateful for how I prayed here because there is safety and extraordinary hospitality. We were told that we should pray from our mosque, back in Goma, not in large gatherings like this as things are not going well,” Yassin, another Congolese Muslim, added.

Speaking to The New Times, Sheikh Kudra Mutarugera, Head of the Muslim community in Western Province, said the Muslims in Rubavu were joined by Congolese Muslims mostly as a result of insecurity, among other reasons.

He estimated about 50 Congolese Muslims, whom he interacted with or greeted, stating that the actual number is even higher.

He said they advised Muslims not to treat the day ordinarily during the period of remembrance for the country. “Furthermore, we encouraged them to offer solace to those who suffered the loss of their loved ones in 1994. Above all, we emphasised the importance of avoiding actions that could potentially lead the country back into a tragic past.”

Addressing Muslims gathered at Umuganda for Eid-al-Fitr prayers, Mayor of Rubavu District, Prosper Mulindwa, praised the Islamic teachings discussed during Eid-al-Fitr celebrations, reflecting on the week of commemoration.

“It’s a celebration day for Muslims and non-Muslims but it came when we’re commemorating the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Their teachings focused on encouraging everyone that we all share the same body and same blood and that people should not be killed in such a way. We consider that as a great lesson in regards to the commemoration period. It’s a great foundation,” he told journalists.

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