Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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Jürgen KLEIN, Institute for Intercultural Theology and Interreligious Studies, Church University of Wuppertal

In 2014, the Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia (IRCE, established in 2010), has published the first and second edition of its training manual የሰላም ዕሴት ግንባታ ማሰልጠኛ መጽሐፍ [Training Book for Building the Value of Peace]. After the introduction, the Amharic book is divided into five chapters, dealing with the religions’ common values and their significance (1), constitutional rights and freedoms in view of religion (2), religion and development (3), peace (4), and togetherness according to the holy scriptures (5), followed by a bibliography. After explanations of concepts within the topics of each chapter, questions are provided for discussions. What are the main theological and socio-cultural arguments that build the value of peace in Ethiopia? How much has the intention of keeping the balance of views from both main religions been kept by the Christian and Muslim experts and scholars? One of the key concepts is the notion of a culture of peaceful coexistence in social relations that lies at the bottom probably not only of the Ethiopian society. The strengthening of this culture against the increase of extremism is the main purpose of the book and the IRCE, but it is also a key element in the strategy of the Ethiopian government in countering extremist violence. In view of different Inter-Religious Councils in Africa and beyond, does the Ethiopian case bring a unique contribution to global concepts? A critical in-depth analysis of the book and its contents, including theological positions (with the use of quotations from the holy scriptures) and socio-religious practices, placed in a contextual setting in which the book has been published led to some preliminary findings. The books achievement of identifying interreligious peacebuilding with the intention of strengthening the Ethiopian way of peaceful coexistence, is encouraging. The book set out from extremism as the root cause for conflicts. However, the degree of dealing with the root causes of conflict factors that stem from political, economic, juridical, ethnic or other classical factors from an interreligious point of view, however, is limited. The presentations tries to explain why.