Muslim clerics from 25 African countries are meeting in Zanzibar, Tanzania for a five-day conference held by the Network of African Islamic Organizations on Population and Development. The conference will focus on issues such as HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence from an Islamic point of view, according to IRIN.
The Network was established in 2005 by Senegalese Sheikh Hassan Cisse with the assistance of UN Sectary-General Kofi Annan in order to encourage religious leaders to use Islamic teachings to combat HIV/AIDS and gender violence. Issa Ziddy, the Network’s deputy secretary, noted in a press conference that the group is supported by the United Nations Population Fund, which promotes access to sexual and reproductive healthcare and family planning, according to IRIN.
The meeting began with Ramadhani Abdallah Shaaban, Zanzibar’s constitutional and good governance minister, reminding African governments that the promotion of human dignity and equal opportunity should be a governments top priority, “especially [for] those who are marginalized and excluded,” IRIN reports.