Youth NGO calls for efforts to address religious intolerance (Ghana)

(Reposted from: News Ghana. August 12, 2023)

By Ghana News Agency

Youth Development and Voice Initiative (YOVI), an NGO based in Tamale, has called on government and other stakeholders to step up efforts to address religious intolerance in the Northern Region, for peaceful coexistence.

YOVI appealed to all stakeholders involved in the pursuit of peace to collaborate in prioritising dialogue and tolerance and addressing the root causes of tension to foster an environment conducive to lasting peace, harmony, and development in the region.

YOVI appealed to all stakeholders involved in the pursuit of peace to collaborate in prioritising dialogue and tolerance and addressing the root causes of tension to foster an environment conducive to lasting peace, harmony, and development in the region.

A statement issued by YOVI, and signed by Mr. Hussein Rahman, the Executive Director, and copied to the Ghana News Agency to commemorate the International Youth Day (IYD), which is observed on August 12, every year, to draw attention to youth issues, and this year’s IYD was on the theme: “Green Skills for Youth towards a Sustainable World.”

The statement said, “We at YOVI have observed with deep concern the recent incidences of religious intolerance leading to offensive criticism among some young Muslim scholars in Tamale, which has the potential to escalate tensions and hinder the pursuit of peace in the Northern Region.”

It said, “While we acknowledge and respect the religious diversity in the Northern Region, we firmly believe that the propagation of offensive religious criticism by zealots is misguided and counterproductive to the pursuit of peace. Peace is not achieved through division or the imposition of one’s beliefs onto others but rather through understanding, respect, and dialogue.”

It recognised the important nexus between peace and development and called on all stakeholders, including the Northern Regional Peace Council, Regional Security Council, traditional authorities, religious leaders, and youth groups to come together and prioritise peacebuilding efforts in the region to facilitate the socio-economic transformation of the region.

It called on all religious leaders, both Christian and Muslim, to foster an atmosphere of inclusivity, tolerance, and interfaith dialogue.

The statement further urged the Northern Regional Peace Council, the Regional Security Council, traditional authorities, and youth groups to collaborate to create platforms for dialogue, reconciliation, and peace education, saying “This should involve engaging with communities and addressing other underlying causes of tension such as socio-economic disparities, political marginalisation, and historical grievances.”

It said it was essential to recognise that sustainable peace required a holistic approach and called on the government and other non-state actors to prioritise job creation initiatives, particularly for young people in the region.

It indicated that high unemployment rates among the youth could breed frustration and discontent, which may be exploited by extremist elements, seeking to recruit vulnerable individuals to perpetrate violence based on religious differences.

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