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New research on religious radicalism in Côte d’Ivoire informs policy

Summary & Comment: ISS has produced a research report on the effects of the faith and practice of the radical wings on various religions, especially Christianity (Catholic and Evangelical) and Islam. Religious leaders and theologians must study this report and leaders must establish and popularize their positions and instructions on radicalism and its often violent practices to the masses of their followers. JK

Author: William Assanvo, contact Date Written: 25 June 2015
Primary Category: Interfaith Relations Document Origin: ISS Today
Secondary Category: Western Region Source URL: http://www.issafrica.org
Key Words: Cote d’Ivoire. radicalism, religion, practice,

African Charter Article #23: All peoples shall have the right to national and international peace and security. (Click for full text...)

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Ground-breaking research by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) Dakar office, in partnership with OSIWA and the government of Côte d’Ivoire, will help authorities in Côte d’Ivoire better understand religious dynamics in the country and how they relate to political processes, as well as the likely threat of extremism. The study’s practical recommendations about how to deal with gaps in government’s legal and institutional mechanisms will enable more effective and efficent responses.

‘The research provides an African perspective on a complex issue that has so far mainly been addressed focusing on Islam, the security priorities of external partners and terrorism,’ says Lori-Anne Théroux-Bénoni, head of the ISS office in Dakar. ‘But political violence can also be linked to evangelical movements, as illustrated by the various prophecies that fuelled the 2010 post-electoral crisis in Côte d’Ivoire’.

Supported by the government of Côte d’Ivoire and in partnership with expert Ivorian scholars, ISS experts conducted field research in 2014 in Abidjan, Yamoussoukro, Bouaké and Man.

Religious dynamics should be monitored not only within Muslim communities, but also within evangelical movements

The research showed that religious dynamics should be monitored not only within Muslim communities, but also within evangelical movements. It found that a majority of the Shia Lebanese living in Côte d’Ivoire adhere the Hezbollah movement’s cause and was ready to support it, including financially.

‘The study reveals that although religious radicalism and extremism have not yet reached the scale observed in other countries of the region, Côte d’Ivoire is not immune to the phenomenon,’ says ISS senior research and the coordinator of the study, William Assanvo.

The research results were presented to Ivorian authorities in Abidjan in 2014. High-level government officials from Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Senegal participated in the meeting, which included discussions on how to address the issues in their respective countries.

The findings have been published in the ISS’ West Africa Report, which was launched at a seminar in Dakar on 22 June. The seminar covered perspectives from Mali and the results of a 2013 ISS study on religious radicalism in Senegal.

Outcomes of the research include setting up a regional observatory on religious radicalism to inform decision makers in West Africa, including officials from the Economic Community of West African States. The intention is to develop a regional network of policy researchers whose work will contribute to a better understanding of this complex issue.

For more information, contact:

William Assanvo, ISS: +221 77 6847373, wassanvo@issafrica.org

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