Religious Extremism and Violence in Tanzania

translation-into-german-religioser-extremismus-missio-2By Elias O. Opongo, SJ and Felix J Phiri, M.Afr

In an extensive and critical research about the present religious situation in Tanzania our confrere Felix Phiri [1], the Director of the Islamic studies in the Tangaza University of Nairobi together with Elias Opongo, SJ, the Director of the Hekima Institute of Peace Studies in Nairobi have published a case study about the increasing religious extremism and violence in Tanzania which was proposed and financed by MISSIO Germany.

The authors analyse the situations of conflict in the country: their historical background which evolved into the recent increasing tensions between Moslems and Christians. Through their intensive interaction with Christian and Muslim believers the authors show the many causes of growing radicalism and violence on both sides and the various supports they get for their activities.

But they also outline possible solutions to a peaceful coexistence of the two main religions in the country where approximately 45% are Moslems, 35% Christians and 20% followers of Traditional Religion.

The findings of this research are to a large extent also relevant in looking for a peaceful and hoped for resolution in similar situations in other African countries.

The German edition of this Research is published under “Menschenrechte”, “Religióser Extremismus und Gewalt in Tanzania”. Both the German and the English editions are published by MISSIO Aachen 2016. (ISSN 1618-6222).

[1] Currently the new Provincial of the Southern Africa Province (SAP).

Interfaith Dialogue for Development & Peaceful Co-existence Conference in Harare, Zimbabwe

Minister of State and Religion Delegation, closing ceremony_LogoThanks to the invitation of the Islamic Centre of Zambia, opposite the University of Zambia, I had the privilege of attending the first Regional Conference jointly organized by the Committee on Interreligious Dialogue (Zimbabwe) and the Centre for Interreligious Dialogue, attached to the Iranian Embassy of Harare. The three-day conference which was focused on the theme: “Interfaith Dialogue for Development & Peaceful Co-existence”, took place at Arupe College also known as the Jesuit School of Philosophy and Humanities in Harare from the 23rd to the 26th June, followed by days of cultural and free interaction. The themes proposed dealt with the contribution of religion to global peace, conflict management, development in general, family development and security. In spite of some of the themes being repeatedly presented by two or more speakers, they bore interesting variation in terms of giving a different perspective on the same topic. About 28 speakers – three from Iran, two from Namibia, one from South Africa, two from Zambia (Sheikh Gabriel Brill from Livingstone and myself) and the rest from various institutions of higher learning in Zimbabwe – were foreseen during the three-day conference, resulting in reduced time imparted to each speaker for the presentation. In all, about 120 participants, with an appreciable feminine presence, were present during the opening ceremony which was presided over by the Iranian Ambassador to Zimbabwe. Each series of speeches was followed by a moment of question and answers. The participants had also opportunities to interact cordially during tea-breaks and during lunch time. The conference period was graced by such personalities the Minister of State and of Religion, who presided over the closing ceremony in the presence of the Malawian Ambassador to Zimbabwe. The Ambassador to Indonesia not only showed up but also made his own contribution to the conference, presenting the situation of interreligious dialogue in his country. The enthusiasm was high among the participants and it was adopted in the final resolutions that such regional conferences be held on a bi-annual basis in different countries of Africa, alternating with the international conference organized every two years in Tehran. The material presented during the conference will be compiled into a book and made available to a wider public at a later stage.
On my return to Zambia, Dr Hosseini of the Islamic Centre of Zambia expressed the desire and affirmed his readiness to partner with interested local organizations to organize a similar Interreligious Conference but on a National level any time soon and I think this would be an opportunity not to be missed.
Felix J. Phiri
Tangaza University College, Nairobi

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