African Muslim leaders meeting in İstanbul have denounced the identification of violence with Muslims and Islam, stressing that Islam is a religion of peace, love and brotherhood and that associating it with terrorism cannot be accepted.
Religious leaders from African countries came together in İstanbul on Thursday for the second Summit Meeting for Religious Leaders of Muslim Countries and Communities of the African Continent under the auspices of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs. Mehmet Görmez, the head of Directorate of Religious Affairs, said the image of Africa as seen through the history of colonization, the slave trade, internal wars and helplessness in general, hides the cultural and spiritual richness of the people of the continent. He said Africa should be referred to by its contributions to humanity in the fields of science and thought and that this is the reality of Africa.
“In order to resolve the main problems of the continent and to provide the world with better relations with African societies, common efforts should be made by humanity in the direction of changing an incorrect image being disseminated,” he said as he read the final declaration of the summit.
The statement said it must be the top priority of everyone of good conscience to stop the bloodshed between brothers and to reach a healthy solution to precarious circumstances experienced particularly in North African countries, the Middle East, the Arab world as well as the rest of the world, referring to the Arab Spring that has brought down at least three Arab leaders so far. In this process, he said the world is facing famine and drought on one hand and disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis and floods on the other hand.
According to the declaration, conflicts and internal wars continuing in various regions of Africa and attacks directly targeting directly the innocent, mosques and prayer rooms, holy locations and historical artwork is actually a crime against humanity. Görmez said the greatest wish of Muslim leaders in Africa is an end to the conflicts and wars in these regions.
The declaration also urged that all kinds of religious, sectarian and ideological fanaticism that prevent humanitarian aid from reaching Africa be censured and assistance be extended to Africa in combating such problems such as famine, poverty, scarcity, racism, malignant diseases, unequal access to education and limitations on the freedom of belief. Muslim leaders seemed to be referring to Somalia, where militant group al-Shabaab controls most of country except for the capital of Mogadishu and has expelled aid groups despite raging famine in the country.
The final declaration also urged the establishment of radio and TV stations in the countries of Africa for the purpose of broadcasting education and cultural information regarding Islam. The statement explained that such services would contribute to the education of Muslims on the continent and would raise awareness of incorrect religious and cultural practices.