Remarks by Ambassador Michael Raynor at the Negash Mosque visit

Michael Raynor 
U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia
at the Negash Mosque Visit
Negash Mosque, Mekelle
June 7, 2018

(As prepared for delivery)  

Assalam Aleikum! Endemenachew! Good morning!

I’m delighted to be in Negash today.

Ethiopia is a country rich in history, traditions, and culture, and as an Ambassador to Ethiopia, I’ve been having a wonderful time exploring the beauty and diversity of this country through my travels.

But I’m particularly honored and excited to be here with you today.

As you know better than I do, Negash is a very important place:  it’s home to the oldest mosque in Africa, and the site of one of the continent’s oldest Muslim settlements.

I just visited the Negashi Mosque, where I learned more about the incredible history of Muslims in Ethiopia.

When King Ahmed Nejashi welcomed Muslims fleeing persecution over 1,400 years ago, he set an important and enduring example of religious tolerance that the whole world can learn from.

Since the mosque was constructed in the 7th century, it has stood as both a sacred place of worship, and as a symbol of brotherhood, respect, and peace.

Religious freedom was one of the core principles upon which the United States was founded, and this has contributed to the diversity that defines us as a nation.

I know that these values are shared by Ethiopians as well, and I feel privileged to have the chance to observe the diverse religious and cultural traditions that make this country so rich in history and heritage.

I planned my visit to Negash to coincide with the holy month of Ramadan.

And I want to take this opportunity to wish each of you and your families a happy and blessed Ramadan.

To all of us, including the more than one billion Muslims across the world, Ramadan is a time to celebrate the beauty of the Islamic faith as well as the importance of family, charity, and community.

It’s also a wonderful reminder of the values that bind people of different faiths together –peace, justice, equality, and compassion.

In that spirit, and in partnership with the Tigray Islamic Affairs Supreme Council and the Ethiopian Muslim Development Agency, my colleagues at the U.S. Embassy and I are honored to offer a small Ramadan donation.

This donation, which contains a uniform and shoes, school supplies, and tuition fees for one year for each student here, as well as soccer balls and school packs, is symbolic not only of the generosity of this beautiful Ramadan season, but also of our belief in the power of education, and our hopes for Ethiopia’s young people as the future of this country and the world.

Education will play a key role in providing a path to personal success for each of you, and will help you contribute to the success of your family, community, and country.

The donation of school supplies is an annual tradition for the U.S. Embassy during Ramadan, and it’s a great honor for me to bring this tradition here to Negash.

I wish all of you the very best in your futures, and once again, I wish you and your families a blessed Ramadan. Ramadan Kareem!