URI Mobilizes Interfaith Response to Kampala Bombings

20 July 2010, 4:38 PM

Kampala, Uganda July 20, 2010 – United Religions Initiative’s Great Lakes Network is organizing an interfaith response to the bombings that ripped through Kampala on July 11, 2010 and killed 76 people. Responsibility for the blasts, which rocked an Ethiopian restaurant and a rugby club during the closing minutes of the World Cup Final, was claimed by Somali Islamic insurgent group al Shabab.

URI members in Kampala are working with Muslims, Christians, Hindus and others to demonstrate interfaith solidarity, mutual respect and cooperation in the face of such violence.

When the bombs went off around the city, URI Sub-Regional Coordinator Despina Namwembe was sitting in a café with colleague discussing a new project. They were, she discovered later, sitting right next to the fifth bomb, the one that failed to detonate. 

After connecting with URI Executive Director Charles Gibbs in San Francisco, Ms. Namwembe, a Christian, contacted the Muslim Supreme Council, other Muslim leaders and URI leaders from across the faith spectrum and organized meetings to begin addressing how to move forward together.  Out of these meetings has come the framework for inter-religious programming intended to increase awareness and understanding between religious groups in the area.

According to Ms. Namwembe, “youth are the most recruited, and also brain-washed into fighting for their Islamic faith.” To counter this, she and other URI leaders are developing inter-religious dialogues aiming to educate youth about the peaceful nature of Islam.

And on Sunday, July 18th, URI membership along with the Hindu community and the Interfaith Action for Peace in Africa convened an interfaith prayer service for those who perished in the bomb blasts.

For more information about URI’s response to the Kampala bombings or its interfaith work in Africa, or to arrange an interview with Ms. Namwembe contact Sam Ruben at 415-561-2300. You may also read URI Executive Director Charles Gibbs’ open letter to the people of Uganda.  See coverage of letter in Ugandan media.