MASAKA: The Muslim faithful in Masaka on Monday protested against non-religious speeches during the Eid-al-Fitr prayers at Masaka Central Mosque.
All was well until the master ceremony opened up for speeches from the secular leaders before the congregation could perform the actual Eid prayers to commemorate the end of the holy month of Ramadhan.
The situation became chaotic when dozens of Muslim faithful rose up and protested the speech by Masaka Resident District Commissioner Teopista Ssekungo.
As soon as Ssekungo started her address, in which she mobilised the congregation to embrace government programmes that include the expansion of oil palm growing to the area of Masaka, a group of enlarged Muslims heckled her, arguing that she was out of place.
When the Imam, Sheikh Abaasi Nseera, pleaded with them not to humiliate the RDC, the congregation spontaneously rose up and demanded that they conduct the Eid prayers, and as soon as they were done, the majority stormed out of the mosque.
Hajj Suliaman Kato, one of those who walked away, blamed the local Muslim leaders for failing to be time-conscious, arguing that the speeches were eating into the praying time, which could not be tolerated owing to the significance of Eid prayers, which he says cannot be compromised.
According to Kato, they expected to perform the prayers at exactly 10:00 am, but they had been delayed by the speeches.
In his homily after the Eid prayer, the Imam of Masaka Central Mosque castigated the Muslims for what he described as unbecoming conduct, saying it casts the faith in a bad light.
He appealed to the Muslim congregation to always be tolerant of situations that seem challenging to them and avoid being ill-judged based on the actions they take under the influence of anger.
The State Minister for Microfinance, Haruna Kyeyune Kasolo, who was granted the opportunity to speak after the prayers, also expressed great disappointment in the conduct of the faithful, arguing that it frustrates efforts that would benefit the faith.
Kasolo challenged the local Muslim leadership to fully assume their responsibilities of moulding members of their mosques towards ensuring that they preside over responsible congregations they are not ashamed of.
The act of walking out on leaders is not new to the Muslim faithful in Masaka. During the 2015 Eid-al-Fitr prayers in July, the Muslim faithful walked out on President Museveni while he visited the Masaka Central Mosque, arguing that the gathering had been turned into a political campaign.