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Promotion of education of the Culture of Peace through inter and intra religious dialogue in ECOWAS Region

The President of Niger, Issoufou Mahamadou has deplored the radical terrorism and religious excesses which consistently jeopardise community life in West and Central Africa, mainly in the Sahelo-Saharan zone and the Lake Chad Basin.

“In these areas, people kill, rape and oppress in the name of Islam. Moreover, we witness the exploitation of other religions for political, economic or social purposes” Mr. Mahamadou said.


He stated this on 22 November 2016 in Niamey, Niger at the opening ceremony of the 1st edition of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Forum on Education of the Culture of Peace through Inter and Intra Religious Dialogue.

The Head of State of Niger welcomed ECOWAS initiative to reflect on the issue, hoping that it will contribute to tolerance and peace in the Community.

Referring to the Rwandan proverb which says “the family that does not speak dies”, Mr. Mahamadou called on the faithful of all religions to communicate with one another.


The Head of State of Niger intimated that the intra religious dialogue is not only a source of enrichment but also an opportunity to develop in-depth knowledge of one’s religion.

Regarding the inter-religious dialogue, he explained that it requires recognition and respect for others, openness and absence of dogmatism as well as tolerance and peace.

Peace has been the motto of the ECOWAS Commission President, Marcel de Souza.


The latter recalled a rise in religious radicalism and intolerance which undermine peace, security and stability in West Africa.

“Religious fundamentalism proves to be a deep source for the development of terrorism. It creates confusion in the minds of people and destroys values of peace, tolerance, love and brotherliness which our religions teach us”, he said.

The head of the executive body of ECOWAS deplored the recent bloody attacks carried out by terrorist groups in several West African capitals and cities, without forgetting regular attacks by Boko Haram in Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon.

After observing a minute of silence in memory of the victims of the tragic events, Marcel de Souza expressed his deepest sympathy and the support of the West African Community to their families.

He emphasized sensitisation and training through education of the culture of peace as well as on love for one’s neighbour and tolerance in order to improve the fight against terrorism.

It was the same for the co-sponsors of the forum, the Sultan of Sokoto, Saad Muhammad Abubakar III and the Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, who recommended the love for one’s neighbour, sharing and tolerance in order to defeat religious extremism.

In their respective prayers at the opening ceremony of the meeting, the Archbishop of Niamey, Most Reverend Laurent Lompo, the Chairman of Niger Islamic Association, Cheick Diabri and the Supreme Leader of Endogenous Religions in Benin and Africa, Corneille Couchoro Balogoun also called for tolerance and the love for one’s neighbour; recalling that all religions have the same roots and trunk.

About one hundred stakeholders of various religious movements in ECOWAS Member States, notably religious and political leaders, representatives of civil society organisations and resource persons will participate in the meeting, organised by the Commission of the regional organisation and the Government of Niger.


The objective of the meeting is to come up with mechanisms for dialogue between different religious communities in order to facilitate mutual understanding and cultivate the spirit of tolerance and peaceful coexistence through education of the culture of peace.

For ECOWAS, the search for peace and the fight against sources of terrorism are major challenges that need to be addressed; hence the importance of the forum as a means to promote mutual knowledge of common spiritual and ethical values and to strengthen interaction between different religions and spiritual traditions.

The meeting in Niamey will enable participants to better understand the causes of religious intolerance in West Africa as well as the religious and cultural backgrounds of the culture of peace.


It will also serve as a framework for the creation of a regional inter-religious platform for prevention and peaceful resolution of conflicts.

The forum should also lead to the identification of a common base of skills to be developed for education of the culture of peace and community life through training curricula.

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