Theological Training on Peacebuilding and Inter-religious Dialogue for Imams of Central African Republic

The three-day theological training organized in Bangui in January brought 33 Imams from the Central African Republic together. Under the leadership of two Moroccan scholars, the Imams representing all the regions of the country explored Islamic concepts of peacebuilding and inter-religious dialogue. The training was co-organized by the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers, Finn Church Aid and KAICIID.

The theological training was also attended by the Moroccan Ambassador to Central African Republic (CAR) and CAR’s National Reconciliation Cabinet Director from the Ministery for Social Affairs. Both expressed their strong commitment to peacebuilding and supporting the religious actors present. Furthermore, the former President Samba-Panza and the Minister for Education Moukadas-Noure were briefed of the theological training, and both expressed their support and encouragement for the peace efforts.

The training was a direct follow-up to the recommendations from the Vienna conference held in 2016, which urged, inter alia, to train and build the capacity of Imams on questions of peacebuilding and interfaith dialogue. As such, the training was also attended by the Vienna conference follow-up committee. In addition to peacebuilding and interfaith dialogue, the training in Bangui focused on increasing the commitment of Muslim leaders to Intra-Muslim unity by using their crucial role in society to endorse peaceful messages.

To this effect, the training was deemed very successful as it brought together Imams that had for a long time objected to working together. In the course of the three-day training, the Imams expressed willingness to collaborate in the future, and noted that they were better equipped to address issues at their communities on a grass root level. Moreover, the training offered an opportunity to build connections between the Imams of CAR and those of Morocco.

Participants themselves expressed their gratitude to the Moroccans for coming to CAR and sharing their extensive knowledge on Islam and its concepts on peacebuilding and inter-religious dialogue. Furthermore, the participants emphasized the need for meetings among Imams from different regions more regularly. Some of the participants also highlighted the need for strengthened communication and exchange among the Imams of Bangui, as well as with the Imams of different regions. Lastly, the Imams urged each other to spread the knowledge and inform the community of what they have learnt at the theological training.

To this effect, further collaboration opportunities are being explored, including organizing a longer theological training for the Central African Imams in Morocco in the future. The Moroccan scholars warmly welcomed the possible continuation of the training, and reminded the participants that inter-religious harmony has been the norm in CAR previously and it can be the norm again.

The Peacemakers Network stands committed to strengthening the efforts of religious and traditional actors in CAR as they reach out to their communities and convey the peaceful messages that support achieving sustainable peace step-by-step.

Background:

The Central African Republic has experienced a surge of violence since in March 2013. Since then approximately 1.1 million people forcefully displaced rendering the crisis as one of the worst humanitarian disasters of our time. Various peace accords have been concluded between the parties to the conflict in CAR but the efforts to implement them effectively have been weakened and delayed by several factors. In this regards, it has been recognized that the religious, traditional and community actors are crucial for the stability of the country.

Marikki Rieppola
Partnership and Events Coordinator
30.1.2018