President David Granger yesterday pledged $1 million to support the educational programmes which are being undertaken by the Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana (CIOG) and inveighed against extremism.
The President made this pledge during his address to a gathering at the Muslim Youth Organisation (MYO) for the CIOG’s Annual Youman Nabi Programme, according to a release from the Ministry of the Presidency. Youman Nabi is the celebration of the birth anniversary of the Prophet Muhammad.
Granger told the audience that extremism should have no hold in Guyana; neither should it be tolerated.
Noting that education must be a top priority in the country, the President said that he will support any organisation that promotes educational activities.
“We are in a situation in Guyana today in which I have vowed that as long as I am able and capable, every Guyanese child must find a place in school….I put a lot of emphasis on education and making sure that every child is given the opportunity to go to school.
If a child doesn’t have transportation to go to school, we must provide that. If that child has no footwear, we will provide shoes. If the child has nothing to eat, we will provide meals. I am deeply impressed with the work the CIOG has been doing and, this morning, I would like to pledge a million dollars to the CIOG for the work of its three educational institutes. It is a start and…I am prepared to help anyone who is prepared to help themselves,” Granger said, according to the press release.
Granger added that as the nation prepares to celebrate its 50th Independence Anniversary Guyanese must reflect on the disturbing circumstances under which Guyana became independent and advised that Guyanese must work together to ensure that in national unity, no forms of perversion or extremism are tolerated here.
“We were in a state of emergency and we were born a broken nation, a divided nation. For me, 26 May, 2016 must be more than a birthday party; it must be a day, an event, a celebration of national unity and one of the greatest tragedies of our modern times has been the perversion that we have observed in some other countries.
I was told that over 10,000 persons were killed by Boko Haram (in Nigeria and neighbouring countries). There is nothing godly about that, there is nothing religious about that, there is nothing humane about that and we all have to work together to ensure that that form of extremism, which is a perversion of the faiths that we hold dear, whether that faith is Hinduism, Islam or Christianity; there is no place for that extremism in Guyana,” he said.
The President also expressed the hope that as Guyana moves closer to its 50th independence anniversary, the Islamic, Hindu and Christian communities can work for greater national unity to ensure that that type of extremism does not find succour here.
“We’ve never had that sort of religious violence in Guyana that we’ve seen in other parts of the world and as far as I am concerned, and the CIOG is concerned, the perverse doctrines will not find a place in our country, but we must work, we must not take things for granted….On this Holy day, I call on all Guyanese to work towards national unity and to work towards a greater understanding of all our people,” he said.
According to the release, Sheikh Moen ul-Hack, Head of the CIOG said Muslims all over the world are facing a time when they have to defend their religion, and their names, due to the actions of persons who claim to be of the same faith. However, he noted that the acts of extremism which are being committed are not representative of Islam or Muslims.
“They are saying this is Islam. This is not so and if they need evidence then there is a country called Guyana. We are, and we must be thankful that we were born here.
This country is a role model for the world when it comes to peaceful co-existence and religious tolerance. ISIS, ISIL, Boko Haram, and all the others, they have nothing to do with Islam and Muslims. We, the Muslims, have suffered more than non-Muslims at the hands of these people who claim to be following Islam but are far from Islam,” he said.
The release said that the event was also attended by former Ministers Irfaan Ali and Bibi Shadick, Director of Public Prosecutions, Shalimar Ali-Hack; and government officials.