His Excellency President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma gave a send-off to pilgrims this morning before they depart for the annual pilgrimage to the Holy land of Mecca. The ceremony took place at the forecourt of Youyi Building today September 5, 2016.
The President said the preparation of Sierra Leonean pilgrims indicate that the country is indeed ready for business and that things are going on well. Islam, he added, is a religion of peace, brotherhood and education, noting that Sierra Leone is recognised globally for religious tolerance.
“As a nation we have a big responsibility because Sierra Leone is a leader in religious tolerance,” he said, and encouraged the pilgrims to be messengers of peace when they return from their pilgrimage.
Chairman of the Hajj Committee Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Alhaji Hon. Minkailu Mansaray, said President Koroma received the clearance from the King of Saudi Arabia to allow Sierra Leonean Muslims to perform the 2016 Hajj. He disclosed that 18 buses were already lined up to ferry pilgrims to Lungi via Port Loko, and also noted that a medical team as well as drugs form part of the delegation to Mecca.
Alhaji Minkailu Mansaray commended Vice President Dr Victor Foh for his relentless efforts in the coordination of Hajj affairs. The 800 pilgrims were handed over to the president by Alhaji Sheka Kamara, Special Assistant to the President on Social Affairs.
This is the first Hajj being attended by Sierra Leone after the deadly Ebola outbreak and brought together Muslims from across the entire country.