Religious stakeholders have called for strengthened youth engagement in the North with the aim of addressing youths’ vulnerability to participating in a violent conflict fuelled through religious rhetoric.
This, according to the stakeholders, is a powerful force for interfaith peace-building.
The stakeholders, who comprise of religious leaders, legal practitioners and civil society organizations, made the call in a resolution adopted at the end of a zonal meeting of the Search for Common Ground, Nigeria’s Advancing Religious Tolerance Project which held in Kano.
The stakeholders also identified strengthened public perception on the negative effect of blasphemy, hate speech, and religious slurs through sensitization and awareness creation programs.
Annakar Tor, a legal practitioner said “I believe that the day a person stops tolerating another due to religious differences is the day such a person loses his/her humanity”
They encouraged collaboration between media practitioners and religious actors to develop media programs that educate on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FORB).
According to Usman Ashafa, a member of the Muslim Lawyer’s Association of Nigeria (MULAN) Kano State, “meeting Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) leadership in one sitting is so marvellous and inspiring, indeed all religions come from God”
On how to prevent discrimination against religions, it was identified that there’s the need for prevention of unfair/unlawful translation of blasphemy laws within the State legal system.
“Prevent the proliferation of fake/unverified news, misleading headlines, and negative social media narratives regarding issues of religion.
“Develop initiatives that illuminate common national identities through a better understanding of collective history.
“Seek reform within the National educational system to include subjects that inform on human rights, religious freedoms, and respect for religious diversity,” the resolution stated.