By Andrew Irumba
Kampala: The government of Uganda seems not to be certain about the actual day for Muslim to celebrate this year’s Eid El-fitr.
Catherine Bitarakwate Musingwire, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service had initially announced in a statement that Wednesday June 5 will be a public holiday in order for Muslims to celebrate Eid Al Fitr. Catherine Bitarakwate Musingwire, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Public Service on Friday wrote to her counterpart in the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance asking him to relay an announcement declaring Wednesday a public holiday.“The Honourable Minister of Public Service informs the General Public that Wednesday 5th June 2019 is Eid Al Fitr and will be observed as a Public Holiday throughout Uganda,” Birakwate had written in her statement. This however sparked off outrage from most Muslims, who wondered how the Ministry had confirmed the date for Eid without the announcement by the country’s Directorate of Sharia or the Muslim Supreme Council. “Is it the work of government to announce Eid? How can a Catherine announce the Eid day? Why don’t you respect a Muslims by just saying that any day that will be announced?” Wondered one of the concerned Muslims. Later however, the Ministry issued a statement rescinding its earlier declaration that Eid will be celebrated on Wednesday and informed the public to wait an official announcement from the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council.
Eid is celebrated around the world, at the conclusion of the 29 or 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting by Muslims during the entire month of Ramadan. It therefore, falls on the first day of the month of Shawwal. The date for the start of any lunar Hijri month varies based on when the new moon is sighted by local religious authorities, so the exact day of celebration varies by locality. In her new statement, Birakwate wrote apologizing thus;“The Ministry of Public Service hereby regrets the inconvenience that has arisen through the unauthorized and premature release of the announcement of Eid Al Fitr day on social media before official public announcement by the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC).” She added that “This is to therefore advise the general public to ignore the message circulating on social media until the official and authoritative pronouncement of UMSC has been released as is the normal procedure.” She noted that the Ministry will thereafter communicate the government position in regard to the matter. Meanwhile, the Director of Sharia at the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council Sheikh Yahaya Ibrahim Kakungulu has urged Muslims to look out for the crescent moon on Monday evening, saying that if it is sighted, Eid Al Fitr will be marked on Tuesday. He said that if the moon is not sighted on Monday, then Eid will be celebrated on Wednesday.