U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Lapthe Flora, the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa commanding general visited the Masjid Gachamaleh - Ar Rahma mosque to reaffirm the United States’ strong partnership with Djibouti and a mutual stance on peace and prosperity for people of all religions.
The scheduled visit took place just days before the holy month of Ramadan.
Sheik Okieh kawrah Fatah, the executive secretary of the Ministry of Islamic and Cultural Affairs’ High Islamic Council, Imam Ahmed Migane, one of the most influential clerics in Djibouti, and Sheik Abdourahman Mohamed Ali, Head of the Djibouti High Authority of Fatwa, hosted the meeting.
“Our mosque has had great ties with the American forces over the years,” said Imam Migane. “America has been a great example and we are excited for your visit.”
The men discussed current events and services provided to the local community.
The mosque is located in a residential area mere minutes from the American base and serves as a focal point with the country’s High Islamic Council. Various clerics are trained at the mosque, and religious meetings are held to unify Islamic teachings across the country.
The leaders discussed a newly released video by extremists that called for violence against American forces stationed in Djibouti.
“Al-Shabaab’s doings speak for itself,” said Sheik Okieh kawrah Fatah. “Djibouti knows this is not Islam.”
“Their message contradicts the Islamic message,” said Imam Migane. “Djibouti is continuing to teach Islam the right way, especially to our youth.”
“Islam rejects violence and projects peace and acceptance,” he added. “It is meant to protect humanity.”
Imam Migane said the United States is a great example of harmony, and Djibouti follows the belief of respecting and welcoming others.
Flora also explained why he is committed to partnership with Djibouti.
“I see many ideals of my country here,” Flora said. “I am the highest ranking American general officer on this continent, but not long ago, I was a refugee. When I came to America, it didn’t care about where I came from or my religion, it accepted me. That’s what makes me an American.”
Flora reiterated America’s respect for Islam and committed to continued support from American armed forces.