Anglophone West Africa religious leaders pledge support for peace in Sub-region

Religious Leaders in Anglophone West Africa have pledged to collaborate with governments of their various countries to promote freedom of religion or belief for peace in the sub-region.

They also reaffirmed their willingness, determination and commitment to remain in solidarity with each other.

The leaders also committed to encourage and promote mutual respect for religious values, beliefs and practices.

These were contained in a communique after a hybrid meeting held concurrently across the sub-region from November 30 to December1, 2021.

It was organised under the auspices of the Programme for Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa (PROCMURA), and within the framework of the regional Training of Trainers workshop on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB).

The leaders pledged to live and practice FoRB, fight against extremism and religious radicalisation through the promotion of FORB in our respective countries.

The communique also said the religious leaders had agreed to fight intolerance through the promotion of Christian-Muslim constructive relations, encourage and develop meetings of Christian and Muslim leaders to be proactive in the defence of FoRB, while condemning the abuses and deviations within religions and their respective countries.

According to the communique,the training reflected on the peculiar situation of the sub-region to work together in country groups with in-depth situational analysis enriched by specific examples from other countries on how religious leaders can address the issues and promote FoRB.

It said the training taught the religious leaders that freedom of religion meant many religions working together for peace and peaceful co-existence, respecting differences within and between religions.

 The communique indicated that the religious leaders had been well informed that freedom of religious manifestation and practice should be regulated by law and guaranteed by legal instruments for the promotion of human rights.

It added that despite positive development in Christian-Muslim relations in the West Africa sub-region, much work need to be done both by religious leaders and the state in promoting and practising freedom of religion or belief.

We the religious leaders do make a solemn appeal to the respective governments of our countries as well as to all political decision makers to recogniseFoRB within the religion and cultural framework of Africa as a universal human right and to guarantee it through legal instruments for the protection of the rights of all,” it said.

The communique said religious leaders would establish an effective and inclusive mechanism to combat terrorism, radicalisation and violent extremism emanating from intra and inter-religious intolerance.

BY TIMES REPORTER

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