ECOWAS Parliament calls for equal treatment of all religions

By Adoba Echono, Abuja

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ECOWAS Parliament has called on political and religious leaders in member states to ensure equity in the treatment of different religions existing within the community, as part of efforts at addressing religious intolerance in the region.

The Community Parliament made the call at the end of the Parliament’s delocalised meeting of joint committees on Education, Science and Culture; Health; Telecommunications and Information Technology in Praia, Capital of Cape Verde.

The meeting’s theme was “Religious Tolerance and Harmony: Essential factors for development, peace and stability in ECOWAS region.”

The Parliament also expressed deep concern regarding the use of religion in politics in the region and called for the establishment of the ECOWAS Communication charter on religious tolerance.

The region in recent times has witnessed a religious crisis, leading to killings and wanton destruction of properties.

The Sahel region has also witnessed the activities of various religious terrorist groups.

The draft report of the meeting which had many presentations from scholars and religious leaders was read by the meeting co-Chairman, Aime Assine, from Senegal.

The meeting noted the challenges raised about religious tolerance and harmony in the community space and therefore insisted on the need for them (Parliamentarians) to become more involved in the national education policy programmes of their states.

It also harped on “the need for deliberate actions and funding for programmes and activities that would promote religious tolerance among the people in the community.”

It stressed the need for ECOWAS parliamentarians to undertake sensitisation, education and information activities for the benefit of the populations, particularly in rural areas.

There was also the call for “the parliamentarians to make legislative proposals or vote on bills which intend to promote a legislative framework relating to religious tolerance and harmony.”

Other far-fetching recommendations put forward by the meeting include; the promotion of structures that will ensure the enforcement of laws and political will for religious tolerance amongst other far-fetching recommendations put forward at the end of the meeting.

Member states were also urged to “Include in their curricula in schools, from primary to universities religious tolerance teachings to foster the culture of religious tolerance.

“Create a legal and formative framework that favours liberties to ensure religious tolerance culture in ECOWAS

“Allocate massive government budget on religious General Education in ECOWAS centred on cultural and religious diversity for tolerance culture.

“Promote an ECOWAS-wide campaign sensitisation for the promotion of tolerance culture.”

In a vote of thanks, a member of the joint Committee, Usman Ango, from Niger Republic, expressed gratitude to the Speaker of the National Assembly of Cape Verde, Ausrelino Tavares and the Cape Verdens Delegation for the successful hosting of the event.

He also appreciated the Speaker of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Sidie Mohamed Tunis for his efficiency and commitment in executing his mandate, support to regional integration and his immense contribution to peace, democracy and solidarity in the ECOWAS region.



Mercy Chukwudiebere

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