World Bulletin / News Desk
The Foreign Ministry on Friday appeared to backtrack from the position taken by its premier on the U.A.E. trying to teach Islam to Ethiopia, saying the remarks attributed to him in a viral video did not target any specific country.
In the video, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was heard telling a gathering of Ethiopian Muslims in the U.S. last week that he had told Abu Dhabi Emir Mohammed Bin Zayed: “You can’t teach us Islam, because you lost direction to Islam”.
Ahmed said he made the remarks when he asked the gulf sheikh whether he would like to help Ethiopia open an Islamic center. But “when the emir offered to teach Islam, I told him no you cannot teach us Islam, you lost faith”, adding that he said that because gulf states remain divided among themselves.
“There are sects of Islam that do not help build Islam in the Middle East; there are sects of Islam that destroy Islam amongst you,” he said.
Clarifying the premier's remarks, Ethiopian Foreign Affairs spokesperson Meles Alem told a press briefing the remarks seen in a viral video “utterly distorted the true word and spirit of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s remarks”.
According to Alem, the premeir was not targeting any particular country but the whole Islamic world about how the teachings on peace, which is a pillar of Islam, was lost.
It remains unclear if the viral video would end up hurting ties between Ethiopia and the U.A.E.
Alem said: “Relations between the two countries are well grounded and deep that no such social media message can spoil it.”
Since May, Ahmed has visited the U.A.E. twice. The gulf state has also given Ethiopia $3 billion to help withstand its foreign currency shortages and expand investment.
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