NGOs push peace in Mauritania
an article by Jemal Oumar for Magharebia (excerpt)
Peace advocates in Mauritania recently launched an awareness campaign aimed at young people in an effort to promote a culture of non-violence. In co-operation with the African Integration Organisation, the World without Wars and Violence (WwW) association on Sunday (September 25th) launched a mobile campaign that will run through October 1st, using workshops, concerts and seminars to spread their message.
World without War members say that violence is contrary to Islam
click on photo to enlarge
"The caravan will include some districts of the capital Nouakchott where crime and violence are rampant, and where deviation, illiteracy and poverty are prevailing, such as the districts of al-Sebkha, al-Minaa and Arafat," according to WwW President Moussa Cheikh Bocoum. "Our organisation is trying to get the message of peace to the largest possible number of citizens by organising direct meetings with the press, national actors and clerics to change ideas," he added. "We also target young people at schools using theatrical shows to drive our message home."
Bocoum said that if the aim was to reject all violence, Mauritanians needed to "invoke the meanings of Islam that are based on peace and love. This can only be realised by putting an end to all things that are contrary to the tolerant teachings of our religion."
The group decided to launch the awareness campaign now because of the situation in the Arab world with violent social movements, according to Ibou Ba Jan, WwW communication officer. "Mauritania is also living through a very tough period that can lead to serious social shocks which may be detrimental to security and stability," Ba Jan added. "We have examples of this, such as the February 25th movement and 'Don't Touch my Nationality' movement that rejects the current administrative census. This is in addition to the social tensions among unemployed young people."
"The thing that makes us focus on the concept of tolerance in Islam and rejection of violence is a deviation of many Mauritanian young people, their embrace of the option of violence and their attempt to change reality based on that means; something that contradicts the understanding of the message of peace that correct Islam has preached," Ba Jan said.
The NGO representative said the group was organising round tables to discuss ethnicity, colour and religion in an effort to promote dialogue. He added that concerts were planned for Nouakchott neighbourhoods focused on the issue of peace.
Aissata Ja, a young woman, said that she attended the event launch "out of a desire to listen to social experts and analysts and clerics about the reasons that make some of our young people deviate and tend to crime". "I found out that everyone agrees on the rejection of violence. I was more surprised when I noticed the ethnic diversity of attendees," she said.
"We hope that everyone realises that Islam rejects violence and respects differences in religions and beliefs," said Mountagha Sek, a teacher who presented some of the training to young people.
(Click here for a French version of this article)
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Here is a rough translation of
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