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Sufi Sect Leaders in East Africa Pledge to Fight Extremism


About 300 Muslim scholars and imams from eastern African countries said they would join their respective governments in combating terrorism.

The scholars, from the Sufi sect of Islam from Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, vowed to fight extremism teachings and terrorist activities after meeting for two days at a conference in Kenya's coastal county of Kwale.

U.S.-based Somali scholar Mohamud Elmi said there has to be a counternarrative to fight extremist views in schools.

“There are issues that help people to be misled. For example, if they do not get a job, social justice, they have to get proper education, the syllabus must be corrected and removed from doctrine that believes extremism," Elmi said.

“We have to put [in place] a religious syllabus that supports the people of different faiths and values," he added.

Elmi called on Muslims in the region to work with their governments to squash terrorism, which has claimed the lives of thousands in Somalia and neighboring countries.

Alleged plot foiled

The end of the two-day conference comes just a day after Kenyan security forces recovered weapons and arrested dozens of terror suspects believed to be planning an attack in Garissa town.

In April, five gunmen stormed Garissa University College, killing more than 140 people, mostly students.

Sheikh Omar Mohamed of Tanzania said such acts of violence create rifts and divisions among people.

Mohamed said Muslims have been able to perform their religious duties peacefully and their governments have given Muslims freedom of worship. He said Muslims should not allow sectarian violence and unrest in their countries.

The Somali-based Sufi sect known as Ahlu-Sunna Wal Jamaa consists of moderate Sufis opposed to radical Islamist groups such as al-Shabab.

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