Gaddafi Attacks Christian Scriptures at Mosque Opening

Nine heads of state present; chaotic scenes

Time to discuss Uganda, where Colonel Gaddafi has just opened a new mosque – the largest in sub-Saharan Africa and modestly named The Gaddafi National Mosque. From Rwanda, the Kigali New Times gives us the VIP list:

President Paul Kagame will today join nine other Heads of State in the Ugandan Capital Kampala during the inauguration of a mosque named after Libyan President Col. Muammar Gaddafi

…Organisers in Kampala yesterday confirmed that Presidents Mwai Kibaki (Kenya), Pierre Nkurunziza (Burundi) and Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete had also confirmed their participation. Also expected to attend are Presidents Idriss Deby of Chad, Umar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir of Sudan, Abdoulaye Wade (Senegal), Mali’s Amadou Toumani Toure and Mamadou Tandja of Niger.

The Kampala Monitor reports that Gaddafi tactfully decided to use the occasion to indulge in his favourite topic of Biblical deconstruction:

Speaking to the mammoth crowd that braved the afternoon heat in Nakivubo War Memorial Stadium after leading the Thuhur (afternoon) prayer, Col. Gadaffi said any Bible and Tora (Old Testament) that does not mention Prophet Muhammad was written by mankind and therefore a fraud.

“The Bible we have now is not the one that was revealed to Issa [Jesus] and the Old Testament is not the one that was revealed to Musa. Muhammad is mentioned in both (original versions), but the Tora and Bible we have now, there is no mention of him,” the Libyan leader, more known for his controversial statements than his piety, said.

“It means that it (Bible) has been forged. Prophet Muhammad was sent to mankind. Allah wanted mankind to have one religion. The Koran that we have is the only book that was sent by Allah. We believe in the Bible as well as the Tora.”

Gaddafi’s predictable diatribe included a question for the non-Muslim world:

“Why doesn’t the world use the birth of Muhammad as a dating process? He was the last prophet; the seal of all prophets. It is racist, its hatred.”

The Monitor observes that

Col. Gaddafi’s remarks, just like the similar ones he made exactly a year ago in West Africa are bound to court some controversy in a deeply religious Uganda.

I blogged those comments at the time, and added a bit of context.

The report also tells us that

President Museveni said he would put the Archbishop of Uganda, Luke Orombi and Bishop Cyprian Lwanga of Kampala Archdiocese to task to explain the omission of Prophet Muhammad from the Bible.

We’ll look forward to that. According to a second Monitor report, Gaddafi’s plans for a show of unity at the event didn’t quite go to plan:

THE Gadaffi National Mosque was opened yesterday amid chaotic supremacy battles between Libyan and Ugandan security officials.

The last of those battles played out at an entrance to the mosque, where President Yoweri Museveni watched in bewilderment as his guards battled the Libyans…Mr Museveni and Prime Minister Apolo Nsibambi watched as reporters, diplomats and security officials created a melee…

The Ugandans then turned their attention to Kagame’s Rwandan security team:

When Kagame’s aide tried to open the door, Ugandan security operatives pushed him back. A scuffle ensued between the operatives until Kagame’s guard, forcefully got his master inside.

The police, meanwhile, held back the frustrated faithful. However, at least some of the crowd were happy:

Old women were seen carrying photos of “Brother Leader Gadaffi”, drawn from their purses, and they cried out in excitement whenever his name was called out on the microphone.

It was also a day for some Muslims to praise Idi Amin; one Muslim leader, for example, claimed the opening of the mosque was a realisation of Amin’s dream.

I blogged on efforts to rehabilitate Amin here.

The mosque opening comes just a few days after Gaddafi addressed an Afro-Arab youth conference. The youth were inevitably treated to a bargain bucket of pensées from the garrulous Colonel there, too:

Gadaffi…said term limits were alien to Africa and inhibited people from expressing their will.

He hailed leaders like President Yoweri Museveni and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe as African heroes, who should continue ruling.

An opposition politician named Ssebaana Kizito claims that Gaddafi persuaded Museveni to remove term limits for his position – although it’s perhaps just as likely that Museveni was encouraged by the likes of Morris Cerullo, whose 2007 Ugandan visit I blogged here.

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