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Nigeria: Interfaith Conference of Christian and Muslim Youth for Peace

May 10, 2010

Africa Synod Proposition 11: Interreligious Dialogue

"Peace in Africa and other parts of the world is very much determined by the relations among religions. Therefore, promoting the value of dialogue is important so that believers work together in associations dedicated to peace and justice, in a spirit of mutual trust and support, and families be taught the values of listening patiently and fearlessly respecting one another.

"Dialogue with other religions, especially Islam and African Traditional Religion, is an integral part of the proclamation of the Gospel and the Church’s pastoral activity on behalf of reconciliation and peace. Accordingly the initiative of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue to establish dialogue with the different non-Christian religions is to be commended highly.

"However, because religion is persistently politicized and becomes the cause of conflicts, religious dialogue is urgently needed with Islam and Traditional African Religion at all levels. This dialogue will be authentic and productive to the extent that each religion begins from the depths of its faith and encounters the other in truth and openness.

"The Synod Fathers pray that religious intolerance and violence be minimized and eliminated through interreligious dialogue. The important ecumenical and interreligious event of Assisi (1986) provides us with a model to follow."


The following article is based on information from Africa Files.

In October 2009, Christian and Muslim youth in Nigeria held a three-day conference to discuss how lasting peace can be achieved there. They said that the time had come for youths across the country to learn to say no to violence and to be tolerant of one another. The conference charged governments to provide jobs for the idle youths because the issue of unemployment was central to why the violence has not abated.

At the end of the conference, Pauline Tallen, deputy governor of the Plateau state where the conference was held, reiterated the need for Christianity and Islam to chart a peaceful path for their followers since both religions preached and practice peace. Speaking at the closing ceremony, Tallen noted that the crises that had torn the state apart in the past has been an eye opener to all those who knew the price of peace, adding that both religion has their sad tales to tell.

According to her, the time has come for youths in the state and across the country, to learn to say no to violence and be tolerant of each other no matter what it may entail. She disclosed that with the recent crises, the people had spoken with one voice to God, the Creator, who graciously answered the prayers of the helpless people, who were still ignorant of the causes of the crises that usually led to loss of lives and property.

Participant Mallam Mohammed Tanko Shittu said youths from both sides must embrace each other and be cautious on letting people with dubious characters penetrating their fold in the name of politics or religion. A big lesson, he said, had been learned and with this conference, it was expected that all forms of hatred should be eschewed in the interest of lasting peace, even as it had become mandatory that people from both religion must learn to live together as it was the case in the past. Another participant, Daniel Choji said the conference had assisted in no small measure in identifying the causes of the problems, and the frank discussions had enabled all participants an opportunity to take the messages back to the grassroots as that would be the only way to mend fences properly.

Learn more about the second annual International Conference on Youth and Interfaith Communication, to be held in Nigeria in October 2010.

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