By Bakari Gueye in Nouakchott for Magharebia
At the mid-point of Ramadan, Mauritanians are heeding advice to advocate moderate discourse.
“Our genuine Islamic values require us to display solidarity and brotherhood at all times, and especially during this blessed month of transcendence and kindness among Muslims, despite all hardships,” President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz on June 28th.
He urged worshipers to stay “within the framework of our holy religion, far removed from any extremism, which spurs some people to commit destructive acts when they believe they are doing good and to make mistakes when they think they are right”.
The faithful have been reading the Quran and holding meetings to spread the good word.
Young people are mainly active at night, when they play ball and card games, and meet at cafés and other venues.
The authorities have taken all steps necessary to ensure that markets are stocked with basic necessities and other goods. They are also making sure the holy month is celebrated in an atmosphere of security.
Nouakchott was divided into three zones protected by the National Guard, the gendarme and the police. An increasing number of officers from the General Group for Road Safety (GGSR) can also be seen on the streets of Nouakchott.
Media outlets, both state-run and private, changed their scheduling for the month. Most programs are about Ramadan. They feature scholars and doctors who explain the virtues and consequences of fasting.
“Ramadan is a holy month and in Mauritania, we give it all the importance it deserves,” said Cheikh Tourad Ould Sidi, a teacher at a mahdhara.
“It’s a month of joy when people celebrate God and his prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him,” he told Magharebia.
“In our country, religion pervades everything and we celebrate values such as love, brotherhood, solidarity and forgiveness,” Ould Sidi added. Ramadan is also good for Mauritanian merchants.
In preparation for the holy month, they stock up on all kinds of food and kitchen items.
“Customers have been flocking to buy dates. It’s an item that sells well, and we have dates to suit all tastes and budgets,” vendor Sidati Ould Ahmed said.
“This month is the most profitable time of the year for us. Demand is very high, as you can see,” Nouakchott trader Mohamed Lemine Ould Limam told Magharebia. “Thank God, business is brisk.”
Charitable NGOs are also stepping in to offer relief to the poor.
Mariem Mint El Mokhtar of the Women’s Association to Combat Poverty and Illiteracy said the group organized a project this year to “co-ordinate all of the good work that people do to help the most disadvantaged in society”.
“The goal is to strengthen the ties between the different segments of society,” she said.