Stakeholders warn religious leaders against demonising religion

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In the face of the current insecurity in the country, Christian and Muslim religious leaders have been urged to desist from demonizing religion but rather focus on fostering peace and understanding among faithful.

A Catholic Priest of the Abuja Catholic Archdiocese, Rev. Fr. Tom-Ave Omiunu said this at an interfaith dialogue workshop organized by the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) and the Interfaith Youth and Peace Building Network of Nigeria in Abuja.

Fr. Omiunu observed that contrary to popular belief that religion is the base of crisis and insecurity in various parts of Nigeria, he said the challenge stems from insecurity. “It is individuals who have sown this seed of discord, and that is why we do not have development in our nation today. That is why we do have division in our country today,” he said.

He also accused politicians of fanning the embers of insecurity and violence in the country under the guise of religion; he urged the youth to desist from being tools in the hand of such politicians.

He was of the view that, “If the youth decide that they will not follow these leaders, and will speak with one mind as young people, they will surely be part of the movement that will bring lasting peace to our country.”

The convener, Stella Francis told our correspondent that the dialogue is to encourage religious understanding among youth in the country.

Francis who is an International Fellow of the KAICIID, further said that interfaith dialogue would encourage Nigerians to share pleasant experiences they had relating with fellow Nigerians of other religion.

She said that the story telling is important to foster unity and understating among various religious faithful.

She expressed optimism that the initiative would go a long way to promote and encourage interreligious bonding for peace to reign in the country. An Islamic scholar, Faisal Umar who spoke at the Workshop also urged Nigerians to move beyond religious tolerance to religious understanding.

On the security he urged the government to provide justice and security for everyone. He said it is the responsibility of religious leaders to remind those in authority to fulfill their solemn oath to the people.

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