CONAKRY, Guinea – (AA) During the fasting month of Ramadan, thousands of Senegalese and Guinean Muslims flock to one of Conakry’s most popular mosques each week to perform Friday prayers.
Last Friday, more than 2,000 worshipers attended – including Alpha Conde, the country’s president – despite the mosque’s seating capacity of only 750.
In March, the Guinean authorities had ordered the house of worship closed after the local Senegalese community, which controls the mosque, rejected the appointment of a Guinean – Youssouf Camara – as the mosque’s new imam.
According to an accord signed last year, prayers must be officiated by a Guinean imam, assisted by a co-imam drawn from the Senegalese community.
“It’s regrettable that there was a dispute between the two brother communities because of this mosque,” Conde said following Friday prayers.
“But now I promise you that I will ensure cohesion between the two communities,” he added.
Following recent talks between the two sides, the dispute now appears to have been settled, with the mosque’s imam set to remain a native of Guinea.
Conakry’s Senegalese community, which built the mosque early last century, welcomed the president’s statements.
“We are comforted that the president came here to call for peace between the two communities,” Doudou Bangoura, a spokesman for the Senegalese community, told Anadolu Agency.
“The mosque went through some difficult times because of quarrels over the imamate, which had affected the relationship between the two communities,” he said.
Bangoura noted, however, the two communities’ “shared history and geography,” going on to assert: “Senegal and Guinea are two lungs in one body.”
Since the mosque reopened two weeks ago, both Guineans and Senegalese have attended prayers together.
“Every day, the mosque has been full,” said a relieved Bangoura.
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