As of March 1, 2021, ECOWAS is strengthening the capacities of some twenty Imams and Madrasas masters in Mali This 20-day training was launched by the Malian Minister of Religious Affairs and Worship and the ECOWAS Resident Representative in Mali. It aims to equip them for countering violent extremism and radicalism.
The Department of Education, Science, and Culture of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) began on March 1, 2021, a training session for imams, preachers, and teachers of Koranic schools in Mali. The training session, on the theme: “Prevention of violent extremism and radicalization in the ECOWAS region”, is taking place at the Maison du Hadj in Bamako, the Malian capital.
Mali is the 4th ECOWAS country to benefit from this type of training which lasts about 20 days and is attended by about 20 Imams and madrasas masters. This important workshop aims to strengthen the capacities of Imams, preachers, and Koranic school teachers in countering violent extremism and radicalization within the community, by improving the educational content of teachings and preaching.
The opening ceremony took place on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, at the Islamic Center of Hamdallaye, under the chairmanship of His Excellency Mahamadou Koné, Malian Minister of Religious Affairs and Worship. It was also attended by Cherif Ousmane Madani Haidara, and Imam Mahmoud Dicko, respectively President and Honorary President of the High Islamic Council of Mali (HCIM) as well as the ECOWAS Resident Representative in Mali, Professor Hamidou Boly.
In his opening remarks, Minister Koné thanked ECOWAS for having thought of Mali, which is undergoing a turbulent situation linked to several factors, including religious extremism and jihadism. He added: ” “This training will undoubtedly help strengthen the capacities of my ministerial department at a time when the issue of violent extremism is more topical than ever in the ECOWAS region.”.
Imam Mahmoud Dicko, Honorary President of the HCIM, was pleased that the modules included in this training are in line with the current realities. He invited the participants to have an overall understanding of violent extremism in order to really appreciate what drives young people to join jihadist movements. “This will give a better understanding of the challenges facing Malian youth in general, “he concluded.
For his part, the President of the HCIM, Chérif Ousmane Madani Haidara, urged a global reflection during this training session on the sources of financing of these movements which are at the root of violent extremism and radicalism. While commending the ECOWAS initiative, Chérif Haidara also invited the Imams and madrasas masters to preach tolerance, solidarity, inter-religious cohabitation, brotherhood, and social cohesion, because a Muslim is not a supporter of violence.
In his welcoming address to the participants, Professor Boly stated that this activity aims to teach imams the concepts of countering violent extremism, hate speech, and radicalization and to set out a roadmap to expand the outreach to other imams. “This training, which has already been conducted in Nigeria, Niger, and Burkina Faso, is intended for some twenty Malian imams who will serve as relays and trainers for their peers,” added the first official of the ECOWAS Permanent Representation in Mali.
At the end of the training, due on March 20, 2021, the participants will formulate a series of recommendations to the Muslim community, the Malian government, and ECOWAS to better prevent and combat violent extremism and radicalization in West Africa.