YAOUNDE, CAMEROON – Muslims in Cameroon have marked the Eid al-Adha, Festival of the Sacrifice, by praying for an end to the country’s separatist conflict, which has killed more than 3,000 people since 2017. Muslim leaders also called on Cameroon’s vaccine skeptics to be inoculated against COVID-19, which has infected more than 80,000 people and killed at least 1,300.
Muslim cleric Bouba Goi Goi officiating Eid al-Adha prayers at the Islamic Complex in Cameroon’s capital Yaoundé, said in his sermon that all Muslims should live lives of complete submission to God to enjoy eternal life, both physical on earth and spiritual in heaven with Allah.
Souley Mane is spokesman of Cameroon’s National Moon Crescent Commission that is responsible for announcing the day of Muslim feasts.
He said Bouba asked Cameroonians of all religious denominations to educate civilians on the need for stability in the central African state.
“It is an opportunity for every Muslim to have a spiritual project to pray for peace, security, unity, health and living together in our country. A good Muslim should be an ambassador of his religion, somebody who tries to work harder for his family, for his community and for his country,” he said.
Mane said that the 1,500 people at the prayer complex include Christians.
The Council of Imams and Muslim Dignitaries of Cameroon organized the prayer for peace.
The council’s coordinator, Moussa Oumarou, said Muslims who are separatist fighters should drop their weapons and encourage their peers of other religions to stop fighting.
Cameroon estimates that there are at least 2,000 separatist fighters in its English-speaking western regions. The government said the number of fighters who are Muslims is unknown since the rebels hide as civilians.
Souleyman Mefire Ngoucheme is imam of the Nkoazoa Mosque located 10 kilometers west of Yaounde. He said besides promoting peace, Muslim cleric in Cameroon also cautioned faithful on the dangers of COVID-19.
He said he is asking all Muslims in Cameroon to respect COVID-19 barrier measures like regular washing of hands with soap and water, putting on face masks in public and keeping a physical distance of at least a meter from other people. Ngoucheme said Muslims should not hesitate to take COVID-19 vaccine because the jab can save their lives and help to stop the coronavirus spread that has killed so many people.
Cameroon said fewer than 150,000 people have been vaccinated since April, when the government received 700,000 doses to inoculate civilians against COVID-19.
Last year during Eid al-Adha, Cameroon restricted prayers and festivities that brought together more than 10 people. Thousands of Muslims in the capital Yaoundé defied the restrictions, ordered as part of measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. This year, many came with face masks but did not respect the at least one meter distance from each person as instructed by the government.