World Bulletin / News Desk
Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara has offered to contribute large quantities of rice and sugar – along with hard cash – to the nation's Muslims ahead of the fasting month of Ramadan, due to start later this month.
"It's a traditional gesture that the president makes each year before Ramadan," government spokesman Kone Nabagné Bruno told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.
"It shows his feelings and solidarity with his Muslim brothers and sisters, who will soon be participating in the holy month," said Bruno.
"It's a token gesture," he added, "but with great significance. We believe it will bring joy, encouragement and relief to many people and families ahead of Ramadan."
During the holy month, adult Muslims – except for the sick and those undertaking long journeys – abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex from sunrise to sunset.
Ouattara, 72, who was elected president in 2011, is a practicing Muslim, while his French-born wife, Dominique, is a Catholic.
The president's donation will include four tons of rice, four tons of sugar and $3000 in cash, which will be distributed to the less fortunate, especially widows and widowers, according to the Superior Counsel of Imams (COSIM), the country's main Islamic association.
"We are very happy the president has kept up his tradition of offering gifts to Muslims for Ramadan," COSIM spokesman Sekou Sylla told AA.
"During the holy month, many families don't have… the required nutrition to break their fast. So this offer is highly welcomed and will be wisely distributed to those most in need," he said.
"The president's gesture is also a call to every one of us to share with our neighbors or those with lesser means during this period," Sylla added.
In the past, ministers, business tycoons and companies have donated tons of rice, sugar, tea and soft drinks during the fasting month.
Non-Muslims have also been involved in these acts of generosity, offering food, clothes and prayer mats to Muslim neighbors or colleagues.
"I always offer cartons of sugar and bags of rice to Muslim clients during Ramadan and they always appreciate this because it maintains our relationship," Leonard Badi, a 47-year-old Catholic who sells building materials in Abidjan, told AA.
"And when we have Christian events or birthdays, they also honor my invitations," he said.
First Lady Dominique Ouattara also makes tons of Ramadan donations each year to rural women. This year, she is expected to do the same, according to a source at her office who insisted on anonymity.Last Mod: 25 Haziran 2014, 11:58