Anglican leaders from across Africa have made an emotional plea to Muslim faith leaders to stand with them in opposition to the "tragic violence that is destroying our communities."
The appeal was issued at the end of a three-day meeting in Burundi of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) where Christian-Muslim conflict was high on the agenda, according to the Anglican Communion News Service.
A statement from the council said it "has noted with much sadness the increasing deterioration between Muslim and Christian communities in different parts of the world, specifically our Provinces of Sudan, Nigeria, and the Diocese of Egypt.
"Coming from communities diverse in religion and culture, the present circumstances have forced us to ask whether the violence we see and experience is driven by religious intolerance from our brothers of different religions with whom we have lived together for generations, in some cases centuries, or whether in fact it is a result of a much greater problem of exploitation of ignorance and religious beliefs for political gain.
"Whatever the cause, the subsequent violence is devastating. In most cases, this societal decline has resulted in bloodshed, loss of life, livelihoods, poor living standards, and has bred bitterness and hopelessness," the council said.
"We reach out to Muslim faith leaders of these affected communities to stand with us in solidarity opposed to the tragic violence that is destroying our communities in Africa. We call upon individual Christians and Muslims in Sudan, Egypt and Nigeria, especially the youth, to join hands united against religious extremism and respectful of religious and cultural differences."
Celebrating the initiative by Egypt's Grand Imam of Al-Azhar to make peace by creating "Bayt al-'ila" or a "Family Home" for Muslim and Christian leaders to deal with the sectarian strife in his country, CAPA also urged governments to grant Christians and other religious groups equal rights and freedom to enjoy the benefits of full citizenship.
* The statement can be read at: http://bit.ly/wqQX0g
[With acknowledgements to ENInews. ENInews, formerly Ecumenical News International, is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Communion of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches.]