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African Religious Liberty Congress promotes peaceful coexistence

In Cameroon, 750 experts support freedom of conscience

African Religious Liberty Congress promotes peaceful coexistence

The Third Pan-African Congress on Religious Freedom was held last week at the Warda Multi-purpose Sports Complex in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Cameroonian Prime Minister Philémon Yang said a religious liberty congress held here last week was an important way to promote freedom of worship and peace in the region.

Speaking to reporters at the Warda Multi-purpose Sports Complex on August 7, Yang said, “This congress is very important as we live in a country where religious liberty is respected. It is a principle included in the Constitution. We are pleased and happy to welcome in our country all people who want to worship God in their way without discrimination.”

Approximately 750 legal experts, lawyers, scholars and other religious freedom proponents attended the Third Pan-African Religious Liberty Congress from August 7 to 10. Some 5,000 participants attended Saturday for a corresponding festival, which included a march through city streets to raise awareness of the congress and its goal.

“It is very important to underline the fact that religious freedom is a basic human right and should be respected even if there are many challenges,” said John Graz, secretary-general of the International Religious Liberty Association, which was a key sponsor of the event. “Everyone has the right to have religion or not to choose a religion, to decide according to conscience,” he said.

Graz also commended the congress managers. “It was impressive the way this meeting was organized, by the timing and the quality of lectures given by the guest speakers.”

Sheikh Oumarou Mallam Djibring, leader of the Cameroon Council of Imams and Muslim Dignitaries, said he welcomed the initiative.

“We must banish all barriers and religious divisions and sit down to talk to live in peace and harmony here on the earth and in heaven,” Djibring said. “Churches, chapels and mosques should be places where tolerance, dialogue and especially the respect for human dignity are taught. Our members must accept differences and cultivate tolerance.”

Previous African Religious Freedom congresses have been held in Kenya and Ghana. This year’s theme was, “Religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence for a sustainable development of Africa.”

Gilbert Wari, IRLA regional leader for West-Central Africa, said, “Religious tolerance is what we want to promote in Africa and the world because Africa must rise and grow and respond to the appointment of giving and receiving.

Several delegations from Kenya and South Africa were unable to attend due to a fire at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on August 7.

The next Pan-African Congress on Religious Liberty will be held in 2018.