[During their visit to UAE, Abiy Ahmed and Isaias Afwerki were presented with the Order of Zayed medal in recognition of their efforts to end the conflict between their countries. (Photo: (UAE Foreign Ministry)]
London: In a viral video, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is seen claiming that he shunned an offer by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed to build an Islamic centre in the east African country by telling him that he had "lost" his religion.
The Ethiopian Prime Minister, on a first visit to US since assuming office in April, recalled the conversation with bin Zayed, who is considered the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates, in a speech to members of the American-Ethiopian Muslim community in the US state of Virginia on Friday.
"We will help you with many things. We will teach you,” Abiy Ahmed quoted bin Zayed as saying in a private conversation with him.,
To this Abiy Ahmed replied, “We don’t need to learn the religion from you. You’ve lost the religion. What we need is to learn Arabic quickly, so we could better understand the religion and teach it to you, and return you to it.”
When bin Zayed asked him why, Ahmed said that Islam is about peace, unlike what is happening in the Middle East.
“You have lost the religion,” Ahmed said he told the crown prince, according to Middle East Eye.
“The Islam that does not look like true Islam has begun spreading amongst you, and you have forgotten peace and how to forgive", Abiy told the powerful UAE Crown Prince.
Abiy Ahmed did not say when the conversation took place. However, he met bin Zayed last Tuesday during a visit to Abu Dhabi with Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, following the agreement of a peace deal between the former antagonists.
According to the UAE's foreign ministry website, Abiy Ahmed and Isaias Afwerki were presented with the Order of Zayed medal "in recognition of their efforts to end the conflict between their countries and open new horizons for cooperation and coordination, and in appreciation for their role in strengthening cooperation with the UAE".
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