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Report of Diversity Talk Series 2013, in Lahore, Pakistan
an article by Shahid Rehmat, Director, Interfaith Youth in Action / World Faith Pakistan

Interfaith Youth in Action (IYA) launched its first annual Diversity Talk Series to address pressing Pakistani issues involving religion and intercultural conflict.



click on photo to enlarge

The series will include four panel discussions in 2013, such as:
- “The Scope of Interfaith Dialogue in Pakistan”
- “The Role of Religion in Modern Society”
- “The Spirit of Ecumenism among different Churches in Pakistan”

The series will conclude with an Interfaith Youth Conference 2013 to evaluate all these discussions and offer the chance for panelists and participants to discuss and share their learnings with a larger audience.

During the 1st panel discussion on Feb 22, 2013, more than 88 people participated, particularly youngsters from all ways of life, spending three hours in deep discussion with 10 national and international religious scholars on the theme of “The Scope of Interfaith Dialogues in Pakistan.”

Objectives of Diversity Talk Series 2013:
- To provide the opportunity for 250 young people in one year to participate and share faith experiences
- To get information, exchange views, and learn new facts from religious scholars and community leaders
- To listen and to learn from the way people who follow a particular faith explain or express their own religion or faith
- To heal the wounds of division and discrimination
- To grow in their own faith by being exposed to another faith in a safe and respectful environment
- To tap the strength and energy of Pakistani youth, who have strong faith experience
- To develop a correct and balanced attitude towards people from other faith traditions in Pakistan
- To build new relationships between members of different faiths

Greater collaboration between moderates in Christian and Muslim communities is key to curbing sectarian strife and resisting a climate of intolerance fueled by politically motivated religious laws, according to members of a local interfaith group. They spent three hours in deep discussion with 10 national and international religious scholars on the theme of “The Scope of Interfaith Dialogues in Pakistan”.

“I stopped attending such seminars years ago. I just got fed up after realizing that speaking in halls and enjoying buffets together makes no difference”, said Reverend Majid Abel of the Naulakha Presbyterian Church. After this panel discussion he changed his opinion, saying these open discussion are important but practical interfaith work should also be parallel, such as IYA’s youth community service projects and diversity tours to worship places.

IYA director Shahid Rehmat, said interfaith initiatives still serve a purpose, particularly for the Christian minority. “Mostly it is about friendship and building relationships to save those who are persecuted for their faith,” he said. However he did concede that such efforts have had only limited practical success so far.

DISCUSSION

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How can different faiths work together for understanding and harmony?,

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This report was posted on March 5, 2013.