The Supreme Council of Kenyan Muslims (SUPKEM) has launched an interfaith youth dialogue forum, to help counter religious and political intolerance, as the country heads to the electioneering period.
The initiative whose theme is “peaceful co-existence between different cultures, religions and different ways of life” will bring together Christian and Muslim youths, religious leaders and the local administration for an open discussion regarding the challenges that are likely to create an environment that encourage violent extremism that results in intolerance in the country, before, during and after the General Elections.
Speaking at the sidelines of the launch of the first meeting in Nyeri, Idd Suleiman, SUPEKEM’s Nyeri County Chairman, said that the Council is also working on ways of discouraging youth from being negatively influenced and incited by politicians, during the campaign, elections and post-election period.
Forming part of the discussion that brought together 50 Christian and Muslims youth, was brainstorming on ways of creating a conducive environment for youths from the different faiths to co-exist peacefully.
The youths were also sensitized on the dangers of radicalization such as joining terrorist groups like Al Shabaab in their search for employment and a better life.
“The two major challenges affecting our youth is lack of information and unemployment. Platforms such as these encourage them to brainstorm about ways of creating job opportunities or making a living through legitimate means,” he said.
According to the event’s organizers, they will be teaming up with the National Council of Churches of Kenya to host similar forums in Kakamega, Nakuru before winding up in Nairobi.
Suleiman says that the choice for the four counties was informed by previous involvement with radicalization of youth into terror groups.
By Esther Wangari