There’s one thing you have to say about the World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace — when they disagree about something, they don’t mind saying so. The final session of their third conference in Paris on Wednesday was the stage for an exchange of dramatic charges and counter-charges abut the perennial problem of Israeli-Palestinian relations. The atmosphere was tense in the UNESCO conference room where the 3-day session took place and several participants spoke up to calm down their more agitated colleagues. Since this was the only session the media was allowed to witness, it would have been easy to conclude that the imams and rabbis needed to seek peace among themselves first before preaching it to others.
It seemed incongruous for the marabout to answer his mobile phone while conducting prayers. The faithful were gathered on mats around his ornate deckchair and I was at his feet waiting to speak to him for our feature on Senegal’s Mouride Sufi brotherhood entitled “Fake Prada Fuels Senegal’s Muslim brotherhood. ” The scene illustrated how close together the ancient and the modern as well as the spiritual and the material sit for members of the brotherhood.