Govt Withdraws Statement on Eid Public Holiday Amid Public Criticism

Catherine Bitarakwate Musingwire, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service.

Government through the Ministry of Public Service has in a turn of events withdrawn its earlier statement to the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance declaring Wednesday June 5 a public holiday in order to celebrate Eid Al Fitr.

Catherine Bitarakwate Musingwire, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Public Service on Friday wrote to her counterpart in the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance asking him to relay an announcement declaring Wednesday a public holiday.

“The Honourable Minister of Public Service informs the General Public that Wednesday 5th June 2019 is Eid Al Fitr and will be observed as a Public Holiday throughout Uganda,” Musingwire wrote.

This however received a bitter public reaction from some members of the public, who questioned how the Ministry had confirmed the date for Eid without the announcement by the country’s Directorate of Sharia.

Eid is celebrated around the world, at the conclusion of the 29 or 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting by Muslims during the entire month of Ramadan. It therefore, falls on the first day of the month of Shawwal.

The date for the start of any lunar Hijri month varies based on when the new moon is sighted by local religious authorities, so the exact day of celebration varies by locality.

“At this rate, the Museveni government will start dictating to us how we should interpret our religious teachings,” wrote Sadab Kitatta, a renown journalist.

“Is it the work of government to announce Eid? How can a Catherine announce the Eid day? Why don’t you respect Muslims by just saying that any day that will be announced as Eid will be a public holiday and you leave the technical announcement in the hands of religious leaders?” asked Mukono Municipality MP, Betty Nambooze on Facebook.

Now, Bitarakwate has in another statement apologized for her earlier statement describing it as “unauthorized and premature.”

“The Ministry of Public Service hereby regrets the inconvenience that has arisen through the unauthorized and premature release of the announcement of Eid Al Fitr day on social media before official public announcement by the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC),” a later statement read in part.

“This is to therefore advise the general public to ignore the message circulating on social media until the official and authoritative pronouncement of UMSC has been released as is the normal procedure,” she added.

She said the Ministry will thereafter communicate the government position in regard to the matter.

Meanwhile, the Director of Sharia at the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council Sheikh Yahaya Ibrahim Kakungulu has urged Muslims to look out for the crescent moon on Monday evening, saying that if it is sighted, Eid Al Fitr will be marked on Tuesday.

He said that if the moon is not sighted on Monday, then Eid will be celebrated on Wednesday.

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