African Anglicans appeal for harmony, understanding between Muslims and Christians

Anglican leaders from across the continent of Africa have made an emotional appeal to Muslim faith leaders to stand with them in opposition to “tragic violence that is destroying our communities”.

The appeal was issued at the end of a three-day meeting of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa in Burundi where conflict between the two faiths was high on the agenda.

The statement read: ”The Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa…has noted with much sadness the increasing deterioration between Muslim and Christian communities in different parts of the world, specifically our Provinces of Sudan, Nigeria, and the Diocese of Egypt.

“As a council, coming from communities diverse in religion and culture, the present circumstances have forced us to ask whether the violence we see and experience is driven by religious intolerance from our brothers of different religions with whom we have lived together for generations, in some cases centuries, or whether in fact it is a result of a much greater problem of exploitation of ignorance and religious beliefs for political gain.

“Whatever the cause, the subsequent violence is devastating. In most cases, this societal decline has resulted in bloodshed, loss of life, livelihoods, poor living standards, and has bred bitterness and hopelessness.”

Highlighting conflict in Sudan, South Sudan, Egypt and Nigeria the statement—signed on behalf of CAPA by the outgoing Chairman Archbishop Ian Earnest—called for an end to violence that “destabilise whole communities”.

“As CAPA, we reach out to Muslim faith leaders of these affected communities to stand with us in solidarity opposed to the tragic violence that is destroying our communities in Africa. We call upon individual Christians and Muslims in Sudan, Egypt and Nigeria, especially the youth, to join hands united against religious extremism and respectful of religious and cultural differences.”

Celebrating the initiative by the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar to make peace by creating “Bayt al-’ila” or a “Family home” from Muslim and Christian leaders to deal with the sectarian strife in Egypt, CAPA also urged governements of affected countries to grant Christians and other religious groups, equal rights and freedom to enjoy the benefits of full citizenship.

“We also call on our respective governments to introduce appropriate measures to guarantee freedom of citizens to live and practice their religions by providing security to their lives and property.”

ENDS

The whole statement can be read below:

Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa
11th Council Meeting

Bujumbura, Burundi
Wednesday 8th February 2012

An Appeal for Harmony in and Greater Understanding between Muslim and Christian communities.

Love thy neighbour as thyself (Matthew 22:39)

The Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa, comprising the 12 member Provinces of Africa at its 11th council meeting held in Bujumbura, Burundi from 4th–8th February 2012 has noted with much sadness the increasing deterioration between Muslim and Christian communities in different parts of the world, specifically our Provinces of Sudan, Nigeria, and the Diocese of Egypt.

As a council, coming from communities diverse in religion and culture, the present circumstances have forced us to ask whether the violence we see and experience is driven by religious intolerance from our brothers of different religions with whom we have lived together for generations, in some cases centuries, or whether in fact it is a result of a much greater problem of exploitation of ignorance and religious beliefs for political gain.

Whatever the cause, the subsequent violence is devastating. In most cases, this societal decline has resulted in bloodshed, loss of life, livelihoods, poor living standards, and has bred bitterness and hopelessness.

In Sudan, the Islamic Government in Khartoum continues to bombard civilians day and night in the regions of Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile forcing them to flee their homes and find refuge in caves or to cross the border into refugee camps in South Sudan. Additionally, clergy in Sudan are harassed and arrested when they have not committed any crimes.

In Egypt, Muslims and Christians have lived together for many centuries however some militant Islamic groups cause clashes between Muslims and Christians. The clashes reflect the misunderstanding and mistrust between the two faith communities.

And in Nigeria, the Muslim extremist group Boko Haram claims responsibility for blowing up churches on Christmas Day 2011 as well as the United Nations building in Abuja, the Police Headquarters in Abuja, and security outfits in Maiduguri, Damaturu and Kano killing several security agents and innocent civilians.

The attacks that have taken place on Christian communities do not just affect Christians but destabilise whole communities and are detrimental to Muslims and other faith groups as well, whether or not they are the targets of these attacks.

CAPA affirms that the attacks on Christian and Muslim communities as a result of religiously-motivated extremism is unacceptable and must be brought to an end immediately.

We are pleased that there is an initiative in Egypt by the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar to make peace by creating “Bayt al-’ila” or “Family home” from Muslim and Christian leaders to deal with the sectarian strife in Egypt. However, there is much that religious leaders from the Muslim and Christian communities can do together to bring peace to our traumatised and turbulent communities.

As CAPA, we reach out to Muslim faith leaders of these affected communities to stand with us in solidarity opposed to the tragic violence that is destroying our communities in Africa. We call upon individual Christians and Muslims in Sudan, Egypt and Nigeria, especially the youth, to join hands united against religious extremism and respectful of religious and cultural differences.

We urge the governments of these countries to grant Christians and other religious groups, equal rights and freedom to enjoy the benefits of full citizenship. We also call on our respective governments to introduce appropriate measures to guarantee freedom of citizens to live and practice their religions by providing security to their lives and property.

In this decade where already the winds of change have blown strongly throughout our continent, particularly in these three countries, we encourage all Christians and Muslims of Africa to refrain from violence towards people of different faiths and to recognise the sanctity of every human life as precious in God’s sight.

________________
CAPA Chairman
The Most Rev Ian Ernest
8th February 2012

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