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Senegalese Christian youth show religious solidarity during Ramadan

Christian youth hold food drive for Muslims in Senegal.   -  
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Sylvain Cherkaoui/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


For this one evening at the moment to break the religious fast, this classroom in Dakar, Senegal looks like a fast-food restaurant. 

A harmless move -- especially during the holy month of Ramadan. Except that here, it is Christians who are the initiators.

It all started with a small message on Facebook posted by this young man, Etienne Mamadou Ndour. But for him, as for many others, this comes as no surprise.

He explains the Senegalese approach to spiritual inclusion. 

"It is not necessary for people to make a big deal out of it, it is our daily life. We share the Ngalakh, we share the tabaski meat together, we share the bed together, we share our family names, we share our daily lives and we share one thing: one people, one goal, one faith and that is Senegal. 

"There is no message in fact. And it is this Senegal that we love. It is this youth that we love. The youth are determined and dynamic to say, to see, to accept and to love each other for a common goal: one people, one goal, one faith."

At a time when extremist rhetoric is on the rise worldwide -- with hateful paradigms dividing communities, the religious tolerance in Senegal is refreshing.

Marieme Dieng, a young Muslim woman, cannot hide her elation at the display of spiritual solidarity from her Christian copatriots.

"As a Muslim, I am just delighted to see the solidarity To tell the truth, I had to attend Christian schools, I have Christian friends, part of my family is also Christian, so it feels good to be here in solidarity. 

"What we see here is just a youth, it's just a people, it's just sharing. So, as long as there is all that, we can only rejoice in what we have. "

Now it's time for action. Like a battalion armed with jugs and small bags, the youth take to the streets in small groups. Coffee, milk, bread, -- the packs are distributed to passers-by and passengers of vehicles stuck in traffic. A gesture welcomed by the Muslims.

Another local -- who did not identify himself or his religious affiliation, explains that religious tolerance and inter-faith solidarity has always been at the core of Senegal values. 

"This country belongs to all of us. So this gesture from our Christian relatives is really great. And it's not only for the breaking of the fast, they do it at every event, Muslims also do the same. So it shows that in Senegal there is no difference between Muslims and Christians. "

This action by young Christians in Senegal is a reminder of their dedication to peaceful religious cohabitation. 

A young generation that refuses to abandon this positive cultural mindset that their ancestors took centuries to build.

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