8 February 2012

Africa: 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."

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