About 600 clerics are gathering in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, for an international interfaith conference aimed at finding a lasting solution to the continent’s growing threat of extremism.
The symposium, organised under the auspices of the Mohammed VI Foundation of African Oulema (FM6OA) opened in the Ivorian capital on Wednesday with a plea to religious leaders to break the silence and preach against acts of terror committed in the name of religion.
“African societies are trapped by small groups perpetrating conflict in the name of Islam. African scholars cannot stand on the sidelines and remain silent about this phenomenon. We want to establish a true image of a tolerant and peaceful religion, and to promote the stability of the African continent,” said Sidi Mohamed Rifki, the Secretary-General of the Mohammed VI Foundation of African Oulema.
“There are extremist groups in some African regions that have granted themselves the right to adopt rules they have attached to Islam and consider themselves authorized to carry out harmful acts of disruption of the peace,” he added.
He stressed the need to adopt different approaches to analyse the challenges that Africa is currently facing, citing dialogue between people of different faiths and beliefs. “To live in brotherhood with people of different beliefs requires us to recognise and accept them in their different beliefs,” Rifki said. He said that the FM6AO’s interest is in having scholars who serve the weak, embody the virtue of peace and gain wisdom, as well as knowing how to listen to the pain of societies and present enlightening opinions.
The symposium, themed; The eternal message of religions, has drawn participants, including Muslim and Christian researchers and experts, from 34 African countries.
Archbishop Ignace Bessi Dogbo of Korhogo Archdiocese in Northern Ivory Coast who also doubles as the president of the Episcopal Conference of Ivory Coast (CECCI), said that the symposium is important since it brings to the fore the need for dialogue to address Ivory Coast’s internal disagreements.