Ethiopia’s Muslims mark Eid al-Fitr with prayer, song

Despite recent onset of rainy season, Muslims perform Eid prayers in capital amid atypically sunny weather

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Since dawn Friday, millions of Ethiopian Muslims have converged on stadiums, mosques and main streets throughout the country to mark the Eid al-Fitr — the three-day festival that follows the fasting month of Ramadan — with prayers and colorful celebrations.

In capital Addis Ababa — where the weather was sunny, despite the recent onset of the rainy season — millions of the faithful gathered at Addis Ababa Stadium and on adjacent streets to perform Eid prayers.

Addressing the crowds, Sheik Mohammed Amin Jemal, president of Ethiopia’s Supreme Islamic Affairs Council, called on Muslims to mark the holiday with spirituality and acts of charity.

Ahmed Abdulrahman, president of Addis Ababa’s Supreme Islamic Affairs Council, for his part, said the council had recently carried out “numerous religious and developmental projects of benefit to the country’s Muslim community.”

He urged the faithful to strive for peaceful coexistence with followers of the country’s other religions — a stance, he said, had characterized Ethiopian society since ancient times.

Following Eid prayers, throngs of worshippers left the stadium singing religious songs and shouting “Allahu Akbar!” (“God is Great!”).

Although Ethiopia is a predominantly Christian country, it saw the introduction of Islam as early as the seventh century, during Prophet Mohammad’s lifetime.

Ethiopia currently hosts Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest Muslim community, with roughly one third of the country’s population of some 94 million said to be Muslims.

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