Somalia's Largest Mosque Opens
Thousands of Somali worshippers flocked to perform prayers at the Islamic Solidarity Mosque for the first time since 16 years.
Thousands of Somali worshippers flocked to the largest mosque in the country to perform prayers for the first time last fortnight, since the country splintered into a bloody civil war that lingered on for the past 16 years.
“You can’t imagine how I feel when seeing the mosque’s doors open again after 16 years,” said Abdul-Kareem while stepping into the Islamic Solidarity Mosque in the capital, Mogadishu.
The mosque, the largest in the Horn of Africa region, had been closed since the outbreak of the Somali civil war. It was only opened for worshippers on Fridays and the Eid prayers. But since the Islamic Courts assumed control of the capital Mogadishu, the mosque opened doors once again for worshippers all the day.
“The mosque is now open to worshippers to perform prayers all the day,” said mosque imam, Sheikh Sharif Abdul-Rahman. The mosque had been closed over the repeated fighting between the different Somali militias. The people were afraid to come in. Only a few number of worshippers used to come to only perform the Friday and Eid prayers.
Somalia has enjoyed rare moments of security and peace since the Islamic Courts seized control of the capital Mogadishu after defeating the US-led warlord, Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (ARPCT).
Warlords had controlled the capital of the Horn of Africa country since the 1991 overthrow of president Mohamed Siad Berre.
The Islamic Courts have called for collecting donations for restoring the Islamic Solidarity Mosque. “Come together to save this mosque before it collapses,” said Sheikh Sharif who heads a committee to collect donations for restoring the mosque.
Parts of the mosque have collapsed as it had not been restored since Berre’s overthrow.
The Islamic Solidarity Mosque was established in 1987 by the Saudi King Faisal bin Abdel-Aziz Foundation. It accommodates around 10,000 worshippers. Sheikh Abdul-Rahman Ganko, deputy chairman of the Islamic Courts executive committee, also called on the Somali businessmen and merchants to join in the efforts to restore the mosque.
He also urged the Somali people to work with the Courts to restore security and stability to the Horn of the African country. The Somali Islamic Courts rejected plans by the East African grouping (IGAD) to deploy peacekeepers in Somalia. IGAD military leaders met in Nairobi and floated a plan to send more than 6,000 soldiers to Somalia.
Military chiefs for the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a regional organisation that includes Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda, said they would like to dispatch the first troops to Somalia by October this year.
Home to about 10 million largely impoverished people, Somalia has lacked almost all the trappings of a functional state, such as national systems of education, healthcare and justice for the past 16 years.