Cairo, Egypt – Religious leaders play a critical role in preventing radicalization and extremism leading to terrorism.
In this regard, the Cairo International Center for Conflict Resolution, Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding (CCCPA) – in cooperation with the Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development (EAPD) – concluded its second advanced training for religious leaders on Preventing Radicalization and Extremism Leading to Terrorism (PRELT) in Africa.
The training, held on 9-13 June 2019, brought together 20 imams and religious leaders from the Sahel and Sahara region (Cameroon, Chad, Mali and Nigeria). It aimed to capacitate those local leaders with the necessary knowledge, tools and skills to analyze their context, refute extremist interpretations of religion, and propagate an alternative narrative of peace and coexistence, based on the moderate teachings of Islamic Sharia.
Dr. Ali Gomaa, Egypt's former Grand Mufti, addressed the opening ceremony of the training. He highlighted the three failures of terrorist organizations, namely i) their failure to understand the text (Quran and the sayings of Prophet Mohamed); ii) their failure to grasp reality; and iii) their failure to apply the text to reality. Dr. Gomaa emphasized the crucial role of religious leaders in explaining (Al-Bayan) the true teachings of Islam, as the ultimate antidote to the fallacies, misinterpretations and misrepresentations propagated by terrorists and their extremist supporters.
Participants also had the chance to explore Al-Azhar Observatory for Combating Extremism and visited the Religious Complex in Old Cairo. The latter is a religious and cultural site that promotes tolerance and coexistence.
PRELT is a flagship program of CCCPA, that is now widely considered as a leading community-based intervention. The program is supported by the Government of Japan and the United Nations Development Program in the context of the activities of the project “Consolidating Peace, Security and Stability in Africa IV – 2019-2020”. Since 2016, CCCPA has conducted eight foundational training courses, which saw the participation of a total of 142 local community leaders including tribal, women and youths leaders from Somalia and Nigeria; and one advanced training that saw the participation of 20 imams and religious leaders from the Sahel and Sahara region (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali and Nigeria).