Kampala, decease Uganda: Muslim religious leaders and scholars from Eastern and Southern Africa gathered in Kampala have agreed on a framework to enable them work together to fight against all forms of extremist activities in the name of Islam.
The framework was agreed upon during a two-day summit on countering, website responding and preventing violent extremism in Africa, approved which was organised by International Interfaith Peace Corps (IIPP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s Regional Service Centre for Africa.
The summit was intended to respond to one of the most challenging problems in recent history – violent extremism.
Ms Rosa Malango, UNDP’s Resident Representative for Uganda and UN’s Resident Coordinator said extremism is currently contributing to a historical reversal of the continent’s development gains.
“If it is not addressed today, it threatens to curtail Africa’s development prospects for decades to come,” she emphasized.
Uganda has been a victim of terror attacks and other acts of violent extremism.
Al Shabaab terrorists attacked Uganda in 2010, leaving scores dead.
Ms Malango also emphasized the need for Muslim religious leaders to get involved saying that fighting against violent extremism was a collective responsibility.
“The fact that violent extremism has been affecting Muslims and Muslim communities most, highlights the need for the engagement of Muslim religious leaders if we are to help communities that are vulnerable to the activities and operations of violent extremist groups,” said Malango.
“Communities need to be empowered to be a vital part of the solution to the growth of violent extremism, and to this end your leadership as religious leaders is imperative,” she said at the opening of the summit.
Agreeing with her, Sheikh Shaban Mubajje, the Mufti of Uganda, said that it was the responsibility of Muslims to stand up and educate the people about its Islam and the fact that it does not promote violent extremism.
“Terrorism is the epitome of injustice because it takes innocent lives and the Koran calls all Muslims to act justly. Acts of terrorism are therefore haram, forbidden in Islam,” said Sheikh Mubajje.
As part of its support to prevent violent extremism on the continent, UNDP produced a regional strategy on “Preventing and Responding to Violent Extremism in Africa: a development approach.”
The strategy emphasises a developmental approach which is underpinned by a policy framework that calls for individuals and institutions to be consistently engaged so that they understand what drives and enables violent extremism in Africa.
The strategy is being implemented through a programme in different countries which are classified as “Epicentre”-countries (Nigeria, Mali, Somalia and Libya) where extremist groups are active; and “Spill-over” countries where impacts are being felt (Cameroon, Chad, Kenya, Mauritania, Niger and Tunisia).
The third category is “At risk” countries which exhibit some of the underlying and root causes of violent extremism (CAR, Sudan, Tanzania, Senegal, Morocco and Uganda).
The UNDP Country office in Uganda is also working with the Government of Uganda to develop a national Preventing Violent Extremism strategy.
In addition, it’s also involved in regional consultations led by IGAD to develop a regional PVE strategy for Eastern Africa.
In his opening remarks at the summit, Hon. Kirunda Kivejinja, the third deputy Prime Minister and Minister of East African Affairs reiterated the Government of Uganda’s commitment to fighting violent extremism.
“We remain firm in our stand on terrorism,” Hon. Kivejinja said, adding that the government’s main efforts were geared towards promoting peace through engagement with various leaders and communities with Uganda and the region.
“It’s for this reason that I am pleased to see this summit engaging regional Muslim leaders and scholars as partners and advocates against violent extremism,” Hon. Kivejinja said.
At the end of the two-day summit, the Muslim leaders and scholars affirmed the Abuja Declaration of October 2016 which was issued by religious leaders from Western Africa, against all forms of extremist activities in the name of Islam, while affirming the preservation, promotion, and development of the sanctity and dignity of life for all individuals, families and communities.