Imams in Darfur Discuss International Law and Women's Rights

Nyala, April 5 2008: As part of its Rule of Law Programme in Darfur, UNDP regularly organises public debates and workshops to engage with all sections of the conflict-riddled society. Religious leaders are an important target group, as they are a trusted source of guidance on matters related to ethics and human behaviour. Imams, seated among the faithful at their mosques, shape public opinion on subjects such as human rights and women's rights at the Friday prayers. With this in mind, the latest UNDP Rule of Law Workshop in Nyala on International Law, Women's Rights, and Islam, was organised to unseat a popular belief that international law and women's rights are instruments of neo-colonialism, and antithetical to Islamic values. Although international organisations are still viewed with suspicion, most imams, keenly aware of their important role within Darfurian society, were willing to accept that international norms do not conflict with Islamic values. "According to our tradition what is harmful is prohibited. If we have fifty imams speaking in fifty mosques, this would make a big difference", says one participant.

(By Maarten Barends, UNDP Sudan)

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