AFRICOM Commander Pays Tribute to Muslim Tradition at Iftar
Despite a busy four-day, three-country trip through Africa with engagements day and night, General William "Kip" Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command, set time aside to attend an important Muslim tradition during Ramadan -- an iftar on Camp Lemonnier August 20, 2010.
Hosted by coalition officers of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, the iftar, which translates to “dinner” in English, was attended by numerous African, Middle Eastern, Asian and European diplomats and military officials in Djibouti, demonstrating unity and support for a religious practice that permeates the region.
“I am deeply honored to be able to be here this evening and be a part of this magnificent occasion where we come together and celebrate being respectful and mindful of this great tradition,” said Ward.
Iftar is a meal eaten after sunset to break the day-long fast practiced by Muslims during Ramadan, which lasts for 30 days. The first iftar hosted by CJTF-HOA since 2006, command leadership viewed the event as another way to build partnerships.
“For me, this is an occasion that recalls a common objective we all have — a common purpose,” said Ward while speaking to guests at the dinner. “That is, a hope that we all can participate in doing things that will lead to greater stability, peace and respect for one another as human beings.”
Ashraf El Wardini, counselor for Egypt’s Embassy to Djibouti, read the traditional purpose of fasting, which gave non-Muslim guests a better understanding of Ramadan. Rear Adm. Brian Losey, CJTF-HOA commander, provided opening remarks and recognized many of the coalition officers and staff who organized the event. Wardini later presented Ward with an Egyptian wall picture as a token of his appreciation. Ward said he has spent many years in Africa and appreciates its diversity and culture.
“As I look out amongst all of you that are here, this group is such a magnificently diverse group,” said Ward. “And I think I would not be who I am without talking about how as a people our strength derives from our diversity and the respect we have for one another in acknowledging that diversity.”
There are currently 18 coalition officers deployed for 3-12 months to CJTF-HOA, representing countries from Africa, Europe, Middle East and Asia.