Conference on Intra-Muslim Dialogue and Capacity-building in the Central African Republic

Remarks
Arsalan Suleman
Acting U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation 
Vienna, Austria
February 26, 2016


Your Excellency KAICIID Secretary General Muaammar, His Eminence Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah, Madame Minister, Ambassadors, Honored Religious Leaders, Esteemed community leaders and representatives from the Central African Republic, greetings.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to add a few words to the fruitful discussion that has been taking place here at this conference. I am very pleased to join Ambassador David Saperstein in representing the US government at this important event. We would like to thank and congratulate our friends here at KAICIID, who have worked very hard to organize this successful conference, and also the Network of Traditional and Religious Peacemakers, particularly Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi, for his tireless efforts in fostering and supporting this intra-faith reconciliation and capacity building effort for the CAR Muslim community. We would also like to thank His Eminence Shaykh Bin Bayyah and the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies for their important guidance and support for this effort, and to the OIC and Ambassador Ufuk Gokcen for their leadership and support.

As the Acting US Special Envoy to the OIC, I work with the OIC and its member countries, as well as civil society and multilateral organizations, to deepen and expand partnerships. We are constantly working to address questions of human rights, countering violent extremism, health, and education, among other topics.

It is inspiring to see this initiative come to fruition after a long series of consultations and discussions that began with the April 2014 visit of an interfaith delegation from the United States to support CAR inter-religious peace efforts, which included my predecessor Rashad Hussain, Ambassador Gokcen, and Dr. Elsanousi. In the last two days, you have made significant strides to identify the issues and challenges that exist for you as a Muslim community in the Central African Republic. As many participants have emphasized throughout these discussions, you must now unite to address these common challenges of reconciliation, social cohesion, and identity. This will help strengthen the ongoing national dialogue and reconciliation efforts in CAR, and enhance the capacity of your community to positively shape CAR's future.

At each step, the US government will remain a committed partner to the various faith communities in CAR, including the Muslim community. We, like the other observers here, hope to help answer your calls for training and capacity building.

We will continue to look to you, the leaders of the Muslim community, including its youth and women, to clearly define your needs and goals so that organizations like the Network, the Forum, KAICIID, the OIC, and others can provide you with targeted and relevant support.

In a few weeks, a new President will take power in CAR. We see this as an incredible opportunity for a united Muslim community to redefine its relationship with the government and fully engage in reconciliation efforts.

Again, I want to reiterate the importance that the US government places on promoting social cohesion and reconciliation, and underscore our continued commitment to supporting your community and the population of CAR as a whole.

T‎hank you.