The 4th edition of the African Peace Conference commenced on January 9th in Nouakchott, Mauritania. Organized by the Abu Dhabi Forum for Peace, this Emirati initiative aims to promote a religious approach to conflict resolution in the region, particularly in the Sahel. This year’s theme focuses on traditional education and its role in combating extremism.
Over three days, the conference brings together heads of state, including the Presidents of Mauritania and Gambia, the honored guest country this year, diplomats, researchers, and prominent Muslim scholars. Cheik Abdullah Bin Bayyah, a highly respected Mauritanian religious leader, opened the conference with his remarks.
“The Original Education in Africa: Sciences and Peace” is the theme of this edition. Among the forum’s key topics, this year is traditional education as a means to combat religious extremism on the continent, drawing inspiration from ancient Quranic schools. Mohamed Mahjoub, the coordinator of the organizing committee, explains, “Our traditional schools have lost some of their prestige and role. Politicized ideologies of Islam have infiltrated these schools. We aim to restore their essential role as they once played in building a positive religious consciousness of a moderate, enlightened Islam, an Islam of the 21st century.”
This conference also provides an opportunity for Mauritania, a rare stable country in the Sahel, to set an example, as stated by Cheikh Ould Zein, a former member of the High Islamic Council of Mauritania. “Mauritania is a country of knowledge, a country of morality. It is the scholars of Mauritania who have been the carriers of Islam throughout the region. The goal is how religion should be a model of pacifism, openness, and respect for others.”
UNESCO recently added the Mauritanian traditional teaching school known as the Mahadra to its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The forum will continue until Thursday, October 11, and this year, the Gambian President, Adama Barrow, the honored guest, was awarded the “Peace” prize.