OBOCK, Djibouti – Leaders from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and representatives from the U.S. Embassy Djibouti celebrated Iftar, the fast-breaking meal Muslims eat after sunset during Ramadan month, with Djiboutian partners in Obock, Djibouti, May 14, 2019.
Amb. Larry André, U.S. ambassador to Djibouti; U.S. Army Capt. Ayubiu Laari, Muslim chaplain for U.S. Africa Command, Stuttgart, Germany; and representatives from CJTF-HOA met with Hassan Debaleh Ahmed, prefet for the Obock region of Djibouti and Mohamed Houmed Ismail, president of the regional council of Obock, to observe the event.
“This sacred time reminds us of our common obligations to uphold the dignity of every human being,” said André. “Djibouti embodies Islam’s tenets of peace and charity every day.”
The Iftar meal is the second meal of the day during Ramadan. The daily fast begins immediately after the pre-dawn meal of Suhur and continues during the daylight hours, ending at sunset.
During the Iftar event, Ahmed emphasized the good relationship between the U.S. and Djibouti, and underlined the American people’s support of Djiboutians, refugees and migrants. He also welcomed the return of the free military English classes being offered by CJTF-HOA civil affairs service members.
Laari, who performed the Iftar prayers and spoke at the event, said staff members from CJTF-HOA, AFRICOM and the U.S. Embassy Djibouti attended the event to promote cross-cultural understanding.
“It is a very unique event,” said Laari. “The prayer we did had diverse people participating; American and Djiboutian.”
The U.S. Embassy Djibouti, Djibouti officials and CJTF-HOA began coordinating the event in February to ensure a U.S. Army Muslim chaplain was available to facilitate celebrations throughout Ramadan. Laari emigrated to the U.S. from Ghana in 2005, enlisted in the U.S. Army and became a U.S. Army Muslim chaplain in 2017.
“I feel very important,” said Laari. “I never dreamt of being in this position. I’m very grateful and happy that the Army has put me in the position to bring people together. The food we eat; it brings all of us together. The purpose of the trip was to celebrate because religion can play a vital role in bringing people together.”
U.S. Army Maj. Kyndalin Mooney, a CJTF-HOA chaplain who attended the event, said she felt the celebration was especially great because she has traveled to the region multiple times to take part in the English language classes and feels connected to the community.
“It was an honor to celebrate with the community, and to demonstrate how we honor and respect our differences and find friendship through our similarities,” said Mooney.
“Djibouti has welcomed people fleeing from violence and poverty and has offered them freedom of movement, access to education, work and public services,” said André. “I am proud that the United States and Djibouti are standing together as partners in the eternal fight to improve lives and help the needy.”