In Paris, interreligious ceremony and action against the Total project in Uganda

Two Buddhist monks, a bishop emeritus, a pastor, a rabbi and an imam, seated cross-legged near a decorated coffin: the image is “unlikely”. These six religious personalities are gathered on Tuesday, November 29, in the crypt of Forum 104 in Paris to protest against the Eacop project (East African Crude Oil Pipeline), the construction of an oil pipeline by TotalEnergies in Uganda and Tanzania.

Scheduled for 2025, this 1,443 km long pipeline will link Hoima in Uganda to the port of Tanga, in Tanzania. A project “deadly”, for the Protestant Martin Kopp. This doctor in ecotheology is also a member of Greenfaith, an international interreligious NGO, which co-organizes the morning with the spirituality branch ofExtinction Rebellion.

Before going to a service station to challenge the French oil group and its shareholder Crédit Agricole, the thirty or so young participants meet for an interfaith ceremony presided over by the six religious leaders, “so that there is space for the religious and the spiritual”, says Martin Kopp.

Buddhist chant, bible verse and sura

The ceremony gives voice to each religion: a Buddhist chant of ” gratitude “ towards nature, verses from the Bible quoted by Mgr Marc Stenger, Bishop Emeritus of Troyes and Pastor Caroline Ingrand-Hoffet. And, finally, a surah from the Koran, recited by the former president of the French Council for Muslim Worship (CFCM) Anouar Kbibech.

A time of contemplation punctuated by the unfolding of an unfolding coffin, painted and created by the artists’ collective Minuit 12, for “honour suffering” people affected by the oil project. This coffin gives a glimpse of a fresco where the nature of the African continent is depicted in bright tones.

The young people take up a song from the Taizé community: “In our darkness, light the fire that never goes out. » “There is a real spiritual life in young people, it decenters me from my Christianity, from my intellectual Protestantism”, says Pastor Caroline Ingrand-Hoffet. Nicknamed “the pastor of the ZAD”she campaigned alongside environmental activists against a highway project on the outskirts of her Alsatian village.

Green convictions linked to faith

Then, the second part of the morning is “place for action” to a secret location. “It is the spiritual dimension that made me come”slips Cécile, who is participating in her first action. “It allows us to go beyond disagreements: all religions agree that we must protect the Earth. » At his side, Martin, a Catholic, is more accustomed to actions in defense of the planet: “My green convictions are intimately linked to my faith. »

“Christ did not die so that we remain seated on our pews”, abounds Yaya, active in his diocese and member of Extinction Rebellion. In front of a Total service station, young people unfurl posters, adapting the Gospel: “Deliver us from Total!” », “Warm hearts, not pipelines”. Religious leaders also hold up signs, after carrying the colorful coffin. Yaya is on his knees and collects himself to the sound of the singing bowl of the Buddhists, between two speeches.

“Religion is the biggest NGO in the world,” assures Anouar Kbibech, on the sidelines of the action. The former president of the CFCM, however, regrets a “communication deficit” between the Muslim faithful, as well as a “lack of mobilization” on ecological issues. For her part, Laura Morosini, European manager of the Laudato si’ movement, deplores the“inaction of the bishops” on the subject, despite the requests of his organization.

In Paris, interreligious ceremony and action against the Total project in Uganda