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Muslim Community Calls for Religious Tolerance PDF Print

chairmanmBy Agele Benson Amos

The Muslim community in Yei River County has called for religious harmony and tolerance amongst various religious groups in the young nation of South Sudan in order to ensure a peaceful and prosperous future for all.

The chairman of Muslims in the County, Kasim Yusuf, said it was only by respecting other religions that peace could prevail in the new nation which has just emerged from a prolonged civil war. He said disrespect of other religions has in the past led to unrest between Christians and Muslims living in South Sudan. Yusuf claims that religious tensions in the country had been brought about by discrimination against certain religions and advises that this should come to an end.

“We, at times, feel isolated simply because some people consider us Arabs and yet we are South Sudanese and not Arabs,” said Kasim. He added that it was wrong to associate Islam with the Khartoum regime, saying that just like Christianity, the religion also has a massive following in the South. “Some people think mosques in South Sudan have been brought in by Khartoum, yet this is not the truth. True belief in Islam, for example, is very much in existence in Yei River County,” he said.

He also urged the government and non-government organization to involve Muslims in nation building activities, in order to enable them have a sense of belonging in the new country.

Another Muslim faithful, Sheikh Saidi Jamba, 45, also called for unity with other denominations in South Sudan. “We Muslims have no negative attitude towards other denominations. All we need to do is to join hands together as brothers and sisters since we all ascribe to one God – whether as Christians or Muslims,” Saidi said.

He also asked the government and other donor agencies to help Muslims in South Sudan develop social amenities such as Muslim schools that can help in teaching the younger generation. Saidi challenged Christian and Muslim leaders to lead by example by upholding harmony between the two religions.

The Arch-Deacon for Yei Episcopal Church Rev. Cosmas Gwagwe Samuel blamed the suspicion between Christians and Muslims on idle talkers who criticize other religions.  Religious conflicts, he said, can always be resolved through dialogue. “Freedom of worship should be exercised for all the religions without discrimination and political differences,” he said. The Arch-Deacon warned the people of South Sudan against criticizing other religions and stereotyping members of rival denominations as this could bring serious tensions and problems.

Halima Kalifa, a Muslim, expressed happiness that the new South Sudan was already offering a free environment for religious tolerance and growth. “There is now a lot of religious freedom compared to what happened in the old Sudan,” Halima asserted. She also urged all mothers to work hard and join hands in changing the behavior of contemporary young girls who are under the negative influence of modern culture.  “Nobody will come from afar to help us, so we must learn how to mercilessly commit ourselves in advising the young ones who are the future of our new nation,” said Halima.

As opposed to the north where Sharia law is in practice, South Sudan remains a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country which accommodates freedom of worship and religion. It is imperative to note that Islam remains one of the actively professed and accepted religions despite the reality that South Sudan is pre-dominantly Christian.