In the News

Re-invigorating Religious Institutions and Communities towards Preventing Radicalization and Violent Extremism

GNRC–Kenya convened some of its members to participate in an interfaith breakfast Forum on 26th January 2017 in Nairobi to sensitize community influencers and leaders on preventive measures to ending violent extremism in Kenya and the region. Among those who attended were representatives of civil society organizations, religious institutions and individuals working to promote the rights of children and government officials, incuding the advisor on peacebuilding and cohesion to President of the Republic of Kenya Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia.

The Forum heard from Dr. El-Bashir, a renowned religious scholar from Sudan working to help young people on moderation. He delivered a lecture on strengthening religious leaders and institutions in ending violent extremism and terrorism. In the meeting, Dr. El-Bashir pointed to the need for faith leaders to work together to end violence in all its forms. Citing examples on how prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) interacted with his neighbors and members of other faiths, Dr. El-Bashir stressed that Muslims should interact with members of other faiths in matters that enhance cohesion, peace and development in the country.

He shared 8/9 principles that everyone needs to respect in order to achieve peaceful coexistence, among them:

  1. Respect the religion of the other
  2. Respect other people’s opinion
  3. Follow the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) and the teachings of the Holy Qur’an
  4. Respect and trust your neighbor
  5. Before doing anything think of the outcomes of your actions
  6. Only by spreading the real Islam is when the humanity can know Islam. Actions of violent extremists do not represent Islam
  7. Guide the youth and children towards success as they will lead us in the future
  8. Create a conducive environment for interaction between Muslims and members of other faiths

The sheikh also shared some of the initiatives they have undertaken as religious leaders and citizens of Sudan. These include, shunning acts of violence in mosques and public gatherings, advising children and youth against violence, and integrating those radicalized. Dr. El-Bashir shared about the great success they had witnessed in changing the attitudes of radicalized youth, putting the success rate at 80%.

Participants spoke of fears arising from attempts to fight violent extremists pointing out that those who confront the extremists end up being threatened or even murdered and the government fails to protect them. They noted that many religious scholars and activists end up fighting the war on terror alone and asked the government to do more to address the challenge. Dr. El-Bashir emphasized the need for religious institutions and the community at large to empower women, youth and children, for success to be realized, adding that women are the pillars of the society and children are the future.

Interfaith Breakfast Meeting 26.01.17 2