Humanity Voice - Shaikh Penofai : Concerns about the future of Muslims in Cameroon.



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  Shaikh Penofai : Concerns about the future of Muslims in Cameroon.
By Adli Al-Baraqouni - Humanitarian voice - 2011-05-26

Shaikh Ahmad Penofaih , the secretary general of Cameroon scholarís council

Shaikh Ahmad Penofaih, the secretary general of Cameroon scholarís council ,and head of the Islamic cultural society expressed his deepest concern regarding the future of Muslims in Cameroon.

He said that most of Cameroon Muslims are suffering from poverty , unemployment, and illiteracy, in a manner that negatively affects their political and economic importance inside the Cameroonian society which puts an obstacle in their way for getting high positions.

Shaikh Penofaih , in an exclusive interview, did not hide his deep distress concerning certain bodies in Cameroon that will not be pleased to see the Muslims enjoying their political and economic rights.

He blamed those parties as being responsible for the decline in development levels in their areas, and the lack of educational and health services that make the task of helping them a difficult issue.

Shaikh Penofaih also warned from the dangers of missionary organizations that are located in various parts of the country , as those organizations are exploiting the poverty and unemployment of the inhabitants to implement their malicious agendas in evangelizing the Cameroonian Muslims, though its results were not that important.

He expressed his welcome for the keenness of certain Muslim charities regarding the Muslim situation in Cameroon, and for their efforts with the government to get licenses to build Islamic schools, and to build or restore some mosques.

Following is the dialogue that took place with Shaikh Penofaih :

- Though Cameroon is located in the western part of Africa that embraced Islam in early times, Islam was somewhat late when it reached your country ,,how would you explain this ?

The first tidings of Islamic call had reached Cameroon since more than a thousand year via Sudan, then came the Muslim leader Othman Fudaim who arrived to Cameroon before 165 years and played an important role in spreading Islam in the northern part of the country and his supporters had established the Islamic Kingdom of Adoma in 1826.

Also many Nigerian tribes have contributed in spreading Islam with the arrival of their first commercial caravans, especially the Hussa tribe.
As for the southern parts of Cameroon, Islam started to spread there during the last first decades through the arrival of Muslim preachers who benefited from the positive atmospheres of religion freedom, guaranteed by the Cameroonian laic constitution .

Would you talk to us about the actual situation of Muslims in Cameroon, and the most important challenges ?

Muslims form 45% of Cameroonís population whose number is around 20 millions , and are located in various parts of the country, especially in the capital Yaoundť which is inhabited by more than one third of Cameroonian Muslims.

Concerning the challenges facing the Cameroonian Muslims they are enormous e.g. the poverty rates that hit most of the Cameroonian Muslims. Unemployment rate reached 17% , let alone, that many of the citizens are suffering from illiteracy , but most of the Islamic charities are combating this phenomenon by sending educational convoys to the most remote areas in Cameroon.

These convoys are relatively supported by the Cameroonian government, in addition to the support of Islamic and Arab charities that have representative offices in Cameroon, and succeeded in building Islamic schools in various parts of the country .

-Would you talk to us about the Islamic institutions in the Cameroon e.g. mosques, schools , and other institutions ?

The number of mosques in Cameroon had reached 2100 mosque, but they are very old and in a bad condition, as they were built with bad and old construction material,while the walls and ceilings are ramshackle ,this is due to the laic system of the country that dose not permit restoring them, and this applies also on Christian institutions or other pagan buildings. So, we depend on the aid and donations of Islamic institution , with African Muslims Committee ( of Kuwait) comes first, then the Kuwaiti charity Ihiaa Al-Turath ( Reviving the heritage ) , in addition to Muslim World League , as those institutions have exerted all possible efforts to restore these mosques , or rebuilding some others. Meanwhile, these efforts are insufficient to confront this problem, especially that the number of mosques and praying places is not sufficient, and the number of Muslims is increasing day after another.

-Many reports talked about the Israeli intensive existence in West Africa, including the Cameroon ..what is the truth about this matter ?

The Israeli existence is not restricted in Cameroon, and this applies in most of the countries of West Africa, as many Israelis have succeeded in penetrating a number of important stateís institutions, and were appointed in high ranking positions that constitute significant risks on the Muslim situations in these countries , let alone that they( the Israelis) became owners of big investing and development projects, that make them very influential persons.

-The Arabic language had widely spread in West Africa, was that the same in Cameroon ?

The French language is still dominant in Cameroon, after 40 years passed of its independence , as Cameroon is one of the important francophone countries, and French language is prerequisite to get an employment in all state levels. As for the Arabic language, it is still not recognized by the government , though 40% of the Cameroonian Muslims use it.


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