Religious Leaders Sue for Peace, Tolerance Among Adherents

By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

A panel of discussants comprising leaders of the three main world’s religions has condemned conflicts among different adherents and advocated understanding to promote peace and harmony.

The leaders who spoke at a one-day “Discussion on Peace, Tolerance and Co-existence Among Religions”, organised by the Embassy of Israel in Abuja on Monday, stressed the need for constant dialogue to promote peace and religious co-existence in Nigeria.

Speaking, the Chief Rabbi of Lagos, Mendy Sternbach, said that although people were created in God’s own image, they have different habits.

According to him, these two concepts are intertwined and “we all know how different we are, but we also are all created in the image of God.

“This is what I believe is the source of conflict in this world, God created the world in the way that we should partner with him in facing the world.

“The fact we are different is not only meant to divide but unite us; people have to acknowledge we are all different and see it as source of blessing,” Sternbach said.

Also speaking, Bishop Sunday Onuoha, of the Methodist Church, the founder and President of Vision Africa, stressed the need for people to engage in dialogue about peace and encourage good mutual understanding.

He said there should be collaboration, mutual understanding in terms of religious beliefs and co-existence to move on or improve people’s wellbeing in the society.

According to him, it is wrong for a human being to burnt to death noting, “no matter which faith or political party or religion you belonged to, death should not be treated as if it is APC or PDP problem”.

Onuoha said, “It is wrong to burn somebody alive irrespective of differences in politics, faith or religion; people must be protected and government must deploy security-operatives to protect lives and property.

“Life is more important than property, but we live in a society these days in which properties are protected and lives are burnt.”

Oh his part, Mr Issa Jabber, a Muslim Cleric, said dialogue about peace has become key to ensure sustainable religious co-existence.

Jabber, a former Mayor of Abu-Ghosh located in Jerusalem, Israel, stressed that Islam is a religion that promotes peace.

“Islam for some people seems very conservative, but if you go deeply into the Holy Quran, you can understand more what this Holy Book contains is more than just verses.

“What is most important how we translate the verses and interpretation for the benefit of human being and not only our mirror mind to achieve any purpose,” Jabber said. 

In his welcome address, the Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Shimon Ben-Shoshan, while urging the people to live peacefully in the society, quoted the Bible according to Micah 6 verse 8, to buttress his position.

According to him, God has shown mankind what is good and what is required, to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly in life.

Ben-Shoshan said, “This sentence explains why we should have a great respect for life and behave in terms of relationship between men and God.

“This sentence explains why we should have a great respect for life and behave properly in terms of the relationship between men and God, men to men accordingly.

“I believe that we all have inner longing for peace, the yearning to improve our well being and then eagerness to share our capabilities with the rest of the world.

“Therefore, we are gathered today in order to unveil more hidden and unknown information in the Holy Scriptures; Bible, Old Testament and the Quran.”

He decried the practice whereby people were burnt to death as a result of political crisis in the name of religion to act of terrorism forbidden by the Holy Bible and the Quran respectively.

The event attracted religious leaders across Christianity, Islam and Judaism to discuss peace building processes and religious tolerance.

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