Joint Interreligious Declaration on Peace Building, Democracy and Development

(left to right) Dialogue participants Helen Haggai and Amina Ahmed. Photo: LWF/I. Benesch
(left to right) Dialogue participants Helen Haggai and Amina Ahmed. Photo: LWF/I. Benesch

Christian and Muslim Leaders Sign at Dialogue Meeting in Tanzania

(LWI) – A high-level interreligious dialogue meeting, convened by The Lutheran World Federation, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) and Mission EineWelt, closed on 8 May with the official signing of a “Joint Interreligious Declaration on Peace Building, Democracy and Development.”

For three days, representatives of various Christian denominations as well as different Muslim institutions discussed such issues as national constitutions and the freedom of religion in Sub-Saharan Africa, current complex developments in Christian Muslim relations in Africa, the contribution of religious leaders to political democracy and good governance and poverty alleviation.

Examples of pioneering interreligious initiatives, the Great Lakes Initiative, TEKAN Peace Desk (Nigeria), the Zanzibar Interfaith Center and the Interreligious Council for Peace in Tanzania were shared to illustrate concrete ways in which people of different faiths are committed to cooperating on issues of common concern.

The participants strongly affirmed their solidarity with one another in the process of building peace, promoting democracy and ensuring sustainable development in their region in the full awareness that as Dr Johnson Mbillah of the Programme for Christian- Muslim Relations in Africa (PROCMURA) said, “Building peace is a long process, taking many years that can be destroyed in a second.” Mbillah underlined that traditionally African societies had always been religiously plural and warned of the politicization of religion.

The statement was signed by all participants, including high level representatives of several churches and Muslim institutions; ELCT Presiding Bishop, Dr Alex Malasusa; Anglican Archbishop Jacob Chimeledya; the Rev. Raymond Saba, General Secretary of the Tanzanian Episcopal Conference (Roman Catholic); Khamisi Haji Khamis, Chief Kadhi from Zanzibar and Suleiman Lolila, General Secretary of the National Muslim Council in Tanzania (BAKWATA). It reflects the faith communities’ firm commitment to respect religious differences, adhere to democratic principles, guarantee the rights of everyone, support interreligious initiatives, refrain from the misuse of religions to advance partisan political agendas and to do their utmost to combat sectarian and religious conflicts.

Participants unanimously condemned the use of violence and committed themselves to empower people to become active in building peace, to promote gender equity in their communities and to build interreligious platforms at all levels to foster peace building, democracy and poverty alleviation.