Tanzania’s vice-president addresses LWF interfaith conference

Bishop Dr Malasusa and Dr Mohamed Gharib Bilal. Photo: LWF/I. Benesch
Bishop Dr Malasusa and Dr Mohamed Gharib Bilal. Photo: LWF/I. Benesch

“Build new structures to promote peace”

(LWI) – Sixty-five religious, political and civil society leaders from Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania are currently meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, May 6 – 8. The interfaith dialogue meeting, hosted by the Lutheran World Federation, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and Mission EineWelt, will discuss peace-building, democracy and development and calling for active citizenship in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Formally opening the international conference, the Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania, His Excellency Dr Mohamed Gharib Bilal, stated that “peace is a process and not an event” and that “jointly we have to work towards eroding old barriers and build new structures to promote peace.” Dr Bilal called for religious leaders to come together, to listen to one another and to form a unit bigger than their own group of followers. As such they will be able positively and proactively to engage with the government and political leadership.

He assured participants that his door was always open to religious leaders and that he personally would ensure that the government of Tanzania would be happy to receive recommendations from this high-level interfaith dialogue meeting. The government, said Dr Bilal, remained committed to work with all religious leaders to maintain peace, good governance and to promote sustainable development.

In his introductory remarks, Bishop Dr Malasusa, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, thanked the Vice-President for making time to address the conference and stressed the importance of religion in shaping people’s identities. He encouraged participants to address poverty and injustice since these are fertile ground for division and hopelessness.  “We are all victims of conflicts—especially women, children and the marginalized,” said Bishop Dr Malasusa.

Sheik Suleiman Lolila, General Secretary of BAKWATA (the National Muslim Council of Tanzania) and Sheikh Khamisi Haji Khamis, Chief Kadhi of Zanzibar, welcomed this opportunity together with other religious leaders and politicians to develop proposals on how to foster peaceful coexistence.

Participants acknowledged the timeliness of this interfaith conference and in the coming two days will formulate concrete joint commitments and recommendations to be shared among the different faith communities in Africa.

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