Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - "There is great need for dialogue between religions in Pakistan in order to build a culture of peace in society and public life. Interreligious dialogue is the key to peace in Pakistan and in the whole world, and without it there is no future", says to Fides Dominican Father James Channan OP, Director of the "Peace Center" in Lahore, which regularly organizes meetings, forums and seminars for study, discussion and in-depth study with exponents of different faiths, especially in the field of Islamic-Christian dialogue, in order to build an atmosphere of social and religious harmony in Pakistan. In this framework, the Dominican says, "we urge the government of Pakistan to include the chapter on interfaith dialogue and peace in the school curriculum so that students, from an early age, open their minds and have a positive attitude toward believers of all religions". The priest expressed his gratitude to Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Al-Tayyeb for signing the well-known document "Human Fraternity" which "we believe should be studied and implemented by religious leaders and scholars, in Pakistan and abroad". "In light of the current problems the world is facing, the text offers a way forward for followers of religions to bring lasting peace and justice to the world", Fr. Channan noted, thanking, in particular, Maulana Abdul Khabir Azad, Muslim leader and Grand Imam of the Badshahi Mosque, for his commitment in the field of interreligious dialogue alongside him.
An important point, that brings together Christian and Muslim scholars in Pakistan, he notes, is to counter incitement to hatred: an urgency found in so many other nations as well, according to a global logic that sees an interconnection between what happens and is reported in the international news. For example, Father Channan bitterly cites the incident of the desecration and burning of the Quran that took place in Sweden in recent days, noting that such acts caused pain and anger among Muslims around the world.
Abdul Khabir Azad, host of the "Peace Center" in Lahore, reminds that "the world has become a global village and people with different viewpoints must learn to live together peacefully," affirming his commitment, and that of thousands of Muslims in Pakistan to "make the nation a place of love, tolerance, hospitality, fighting against terrorism and religious extremism".
As Father Channan reports, a recent conference held "Peace Center" was also attended by people with civic responsibilities, such as Pakistan's President Arif Alvi. The latter wanted to confirm the state's commitment to "ensuring that everyone can practice their religion without interfering in those of others, ensuring political, social, cultural, legal and religious freedoms for the followers of all religions".
Recalling that "all religions preach peace, security and harmony", Pakistan's president reiterated that "it is the duty of the state to protect places of worship, guaranteeing equal rights to all citizens" and that "a Muslim-majority society, such as Pakistan, has a responsibility to protect the dignity, life and property of the followers of all other religions". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 30/1/2023)
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