National Seminar On Freedom Of Religion Or Belief In Sierra Leone

As part of efforts to raise the visibility of the Sierra Leone Parliamentary caucus on Freedom  Religion or Belief (FoRB) and foster regular engagements between caucus members and the Sierra Leonean public, the African Centre for Parliamentary Affairs (ACEPA) and its partners in collaboration with the Sierra Leonean Parliamentary Caucus, organized a one-day seminar on the theme: NATIONAL SEMINAR ON FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF. A BASIC HUMAN RIGHT FOR SUSTAINABLE PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT IN SIERRA LEONE AND THE ROLE OF PARLIAMENT AND OTHER STAKEHOLDERS.

The meeting which brought together Members of the Parliamentary Caucus on FoRB, Faith leaders from both the Muslim and Christian community as well as representatives from civil society (CSO’s) was held at The New Brookfields Hotel Conference Center, on 24th November 2023. A total of 31 participants from these stakeholders participated in the meeting. The meeting was opened with silent prayers by the participants.

Following the presentation of Barrister Rashid Dumbuya, participants were given the opportunity to join the discussion, share their perspectives and possibly proffer suggestions on how to tackle the issue of discrimination especially of minority groups. Hon. Mamoud Kamara of the All Peoples Congress APC party said that as far as he was concerned Sierra Leoneans co-exist peacefully except for a few isolated incidences here and there.

However, he suggested that it is in times of peace that you prepare for war, so it is good that we have started talking about freedom of religion or belief now. Hon. Haja Amara lamented on the issue of Women being discriminated against especially when it comes to positions of power but that is changing now with the recent passing of the 30% quota of women’s participation in governance.

Kono Tribal Headman, Chief S.O. Gbekie in his comment reiterated the fact that even though Sierra Leone is one of the most religious tolerant countries in Africa, the Law Makers should make or pass laws that would further strengthen that value. Sheikh Ibrahim Barrie referring to the guest speakers statement clarified the point that Tabligh was not a sect in Sierra Leone but part of the Sunnis. He also made it clear that it was not them as clerics that discriminated against women holding religious positions, but it was clearly stated in the Holy Koran. Rev. Dr. Usman Forna of the Inter-religious Council of Sierra Leone commended ACEPA/FoRB for such a timely National Seminar and asked that it be replicated in the provinces.

The National seminar provided the opportunity for participants to bring out ideas with a pathway on how best to address any creeping intolerance among people of different religious affiliations, rising tide of religious extremism and its concomitant effect on the socio-political and development of the nation of Sierra Leone.

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