The Inter Religious Council of Liberia (IRCL), the nation’s highest religious advisory body, today commenced a one day peace symposium in Monrovia that brought together over 40 delegates including Christian and Islamic clerics, government officials, guest lecturers and facilitators, for the sole purpose of promoting the culture of peace and harmony among different groups and people within the Liberian society.
The symposium is a preparatory meeting ahead of the August 19, 2019 Lindau Religions for Peace World Assembly gathering in Germany, where 700 religious leaders and 200 observers are expected to assemble to discuss under the theme: “Caring for Our Common Future: Advancing Shared Wellbeing.”
The Monrovia conference is a consultative summit aimed at developing positions from national leaders on the global theme which will be discussed at the 2019 Lindua conference in Germany.
The peace conference discussed thematic areas including promoting peace and development in society, promoting social justice, advancing the common goods of human communities and societies; building peaceful societies, promoting positive attitudes of peoples of different societies of the world; free flow of information, low level of corruption in society, promoting good neighborliness amongst peoples and building harmonies amongst communities. Other key focus of the symposium’s deliberation include caring for the future through the prevention of wars and conflict within the society, mobilizing religious actions for peace building and societal harmony, amongst others.
Participants at the conference also evaluated issues such as conflict trend globally, the rise in interstate conflicts across the globe, analysis of reasons why people and groups enter conflicts, reason for internal and external conflicts, disproportionate effects of armed conflicts on people and society, especially civilians, women, and combatants, identification of the drivers of conflicts, drivers of peace, insight into violence, injustice in society, community negotiations and peace initiatives, as well as dissecting the importance of religious organizations within the society.
Several religious clerics in the country, including government officials representing various stakeholder ministries and agencies participated in today’s peace assembly deliberations at the Corina Hotel, Sinkor, Monrovia.
“We want to welcome you all to this very important peace discussion. Without peace, I believe we cannot achieve anything hence, it is our expectation that our discussion here today would yield fruitful results, and I therefore want to officially welcome you to this IRC peace symposium,”
Cllr. Musa M. Bamba, Secretary General of the Inter Religious Council of Liberia, asserted during the seminar’s opening.
“We are here today because of peace,” averred Sheikh Omaru A. Kamara, Vice President of the IRCL, and Chairman of the National Muslim Council of Liberia (NMCL).
Sheikh Kamara: “This is why we must all pray for peace in Liberia. We are all one family in this country and so we must do everything to work for peace because, without peace, we’ll not achieve anything here.
For his part, Liberia’s Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abuboikai Sumawolo elucidated that: “I want to praise Allah for this very important discussion. I am very proud to be part of you. I am proud to be your messenger of peace to your community. I would like to remind ourselves that as Muslims, we must, at all times; do those things that reflect peace. That is why Muslims must do at all times so that they can live in peace.”
“We must let the nation and all Liberians know at all times that we all came from a single family. Let us continue to remind everyone that whether you are a Kpelleh man, a black or white man, an Indian, Hindu, we are all one family. Always do your best not to deny others their right to freedom. Liberia has gone through a lot. Because of the civil war, our country, our economy went down. We must all remember that peace should is our priority. As Muslims, we should do nothing to kill anyone.”
“The Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him-PBUH) said to us that we should continue to promote peace. Liberian Muslims and Christians are from one family. We always have to ensure we have sweet neighborliness amongst us at all times.”
“There can be no peace in Liberia without the inter-religious council. We will continue to work with you so that we can maintain our fragile peace, especially in ensuring the protection of women, and children, as well as the protection women and girls against sexual and gender based violence (SGBV),” Maminah Carr, Assistant Minister for Children and Social Protection, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, said.
Also speaking at the symposium Rev. Dr. Kortu Brown, President of the IRCL and head of the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC) asserted that: “It’s up to us to work for peace and sustain peace. There’s nothing we can do here without peace. We cannot protect our children without peace. The churches and Mosques, too, cannot work effectively without peace.”
“Liberians have a commitment challenge. We have to rethink and realize that our country is peaceful so that we all can live in harmony. Before you became Christian or Muslim, you were first a Liberians. We can help to minimize violence in our society by the things we say. The Government, too, must care for our common future. We all benefit from peace and harmony. We need to work for world peace and society. We need to work for sustainability of our peace. Whatever affects our peace directly or indirectly affects our country. That said, I want to welcome you all to this conference, and wish God’s bountiful blessings upon these deliberations.”
“Caring for your neighbor is part of the universal value that religion brings to the world community and to the society we live in,” Facilitator Jimmy Otieno, Program Manager, Communication and Development, African Council of Religious Leaders, averred.
He added that: “Tackling disarmament was the first way of ensuring and maintaining peace, including advancing Human dignity, eradicating terrorisms, building partnerships and promotion of peace and good governance amongst communities and various peoples of the world.”
“Advancing shared wellbeing is an important factor here,” he emphasized. Adding: “Whether we like each other or not, the fact is that we face the future together.”
Mr. Otieno also underscored conflict prevention and promoting peace, and reconciliation as very important elements for the maintenance and sustenance of peace and harmony within communities.
“We also need to look at good governance and the promotion of anti-corruption as very important elements, too, including protecting women and children, too, are important here. Protecting the environment is also important.”
He also added that: “We must also look at religion as an institution, an organization, an idea, a set of practices, religion as spirituality, carrying for a common future by promoting quality peace, justice and harmony within the society-issues of freedom of religion, good governance and security, migration, etcetera, etcetera.”