The inclusion of religious and traditional leaders in dialogue is beneficial in achieving a peaceful society. To this end, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID), Interfaith Mediation Centre (IMC) Institute of Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) and Kukah Centre organized a National Intra-religious Conference in Abuja from 27 to 29 September, 2016 for 100 participants, 50 each from the two faiths (Islam and Christianity). The event with the theme “Coordinate to Achieve Intra-religious Understanding in Nigeria” saw followers of two religions in attendance to dialogue for peace.
Participants were split into two groups of Muslims and Christians and were given the opportunity to dialogue at the intra level on issues bedeviling peace in the country and proffer possible solutions to them.
The feedback collected from each group (Muslim and Christian) showed that the participants from both faiths had similar fears and mutual suspicions of each other.
Some of the issues raised included:
· Suspicion for fear of westernization, political space, Christians converting Muslims, external powers, physical security where Christians always think any attack is sponsored by Muslims
· Inferiority complex
· Fear of Domination by Muslims
· Hate and sentiment based on ulterior motives
· Misrepresentation of the principles of Islamic clerics
· Issue of trinity
· Skepticism about Christians on interfaith relations
· Igbo Muslim are mocked by the Christians
· Profiling of Muslims as terrorists, extremists
1. Joint Muslim Christian media outfit to disseminate inclusive information.
2. Invitation and visitation to each other.
3. Initiate joint educational programs for Muslim and Christian kids.
4. Building capacity of existing interfaith organization.
5. Initiate joint social development programs at community level
At the end of the conference, a 30-member committee with 15 each from Muslims and Christians was set up. The committees were charged with the responsibility of taking the next steps to work on the joint action plan developed in preparation for the Inter Conference coming later in the year and IMC to take responsibility of coordinating.