The National Interreligious Council of Ethiopia in collaboration with the Ministry of Federal Affairs has organized a three days conference on national interreligious tolerance and peaceful co-existence in Ethiopia.
The conference kicked off yesterday with an opening remark by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn at the African Union Headquarters. Organizers say it is aimed at strengthening the values of peaceful coexistence among different religions in Ethiopia.
PM Hailemariam has called on religious institutions and their followers to keep up their excellent job of unmasking the undercover operations of religious extremists. “This conference is mainly to focus on how to keep the harmony and unity of our people, which these days is facing threats because of some extremists,” he said.
PM Hailemariam also warned those whom he said were operating to promote intolerance under the pretext of religion to refrain from their acts, adding that the government would continue taking legal actions against such attempts by religious extremists.
“The existence of constitutional guarantee has created even greater opportunities for religious institutions in Ethiopia to work together towards the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP),” PM Hailemraim further said.
According to Dr. Shiferaw Teklemariam, Minister of Federal Affairs, The conference would help “exploit the long-standing heritage of peaceful coexistence, religious respect and tolerance in Ethiopia to consolidate peace, democracy and development,” he said, “It will create opportunities for the public to discuss on ways of developing religious tolerance and respect for the constitution as well as to discuss religious related issues”.
The conference, which is being held under the theme “We shall strive to realize Ethiopia’s renaissance through strengthening the values of religious coexistence and respect to constitutional provisions,” attracted over 2,500 participants from across the country.
Dr. Shiferaw said the conference has three frameworks: promoting the already existing peace, tolerance and culture nationwide; creating greater awareness about the country’s constitutional provisions particularly related to religion, and to accelerate the road to the renaissance which have already been started.
Helping to bring national consensus on state-religion relations, stamping out acts of extremisms from the country, strengthening cooperation among member institutions, building upon the existing tradition of peaceful coexistence and contribute to the national development are among the topics under discussion at the national conference.
Dr. Aysha Abdullahi, the Commissioner for Political Affairs of the African Union Commission (AUC), on her part says that Ethiopia is a country looked upon as an example for religious harmony and unity.
She added ethnic intolerance and conflicts in many countries are solved by putting a national framework that promotes peaceful coexistence, inclusivity among the various religious and ethnic groups.
The principles of tolerance are empathy, sharing and dialogue to mention a few, which are fundamental to national peaceful coexistence and development in any country, Mrs. Abdullahi said.
Papers covering historical background and current status of religious coexistence, the roots and remedies of religious fanaticism, as well as the patterns and trends of radicalism and fundamentalism, among others, would be presented and discussed in the course of the conference.
The conference was also addressed by Abune Mathias, the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and Sheik Kiyar Mohamed, President of the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Council.
Caption: Abune Mathias (left), Dr. Shiferaw Teklemariam and Sheik Kedir Mohamed , Deputy President of the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Council, briefing journalists on the importance of the conference
Photo: Addis Standard