Sahel ulemas take stand against al-Qaeda
By Fidet Mansour for Magharebia in Algiers – 19/11/12
Religious leaders from Algeria, Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Nigeria just launched the "League of the Ulemas of the Sahel".
The move announced on Tuesday (November 13th) came in response to the political and security crisis in Mali. The league aims "to preach peace in the region".
Malian High Islamic Council member Mohamadou Toure, Mauritania's Sar Moussa Faly and Sidi Mohamed Ould Chewaf, Algerians Ahmed Tikhemrine and Bachir Kessal, Nigerian imam Mohamed Abdullah Mabdoul and Nigeriens El-Hadj Mohamed Hossein and Kahaled Yahya Haladou spoke out against terrorist acts perpetrated in the name of Islam.
The religious figures unequivocally condemned al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Movement for Tawhid and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) and Boko Haram.
"Allah urges us to recommend peace. There is nothing more worthy of blame than terrorism and shameful acts of all kinds," the men said.
Nigerian imam Mohamed Abdullah Mabdoul brought up the issue of kidnappings.
"These acts committed in the name of Allah are appalling and inexcusable," Mabdoul said at an Algiers press conference.
The League of Ulemas of the Sahel seeks "to defend the true values of Islam, which have been distorted by those who, through extremism and misinterpretation of Islam, carry out abductions and are destabilising this part of the African continent", Cheikh Kassel said.
Mabdoul and others said that a political solution was still viable in the region.
"Mali", Toure told Le Temps d'Algerie, "can only welcome a process leading to peace".
According to Haladou, "peace in Mali and the entire Sahel region is being threatened".
In Niger, civil society and religious figures have created the Framework Initiative for the Promotion of Peace (CIPPE) in the Sahel and Sahara.
"This project has the same goal: to restore peace and stability," Haladou added.
"We need to focus on discussions and dialogue, and not necessarily on the use of force, or war. And we are optimistic about peace in the Sahel," Mabdoul said.
Cheikh Kessal did not rule out the idea of calling on former terrorists to persuade members of armed groups to lay down their weapons and join in the appeal for peace.
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