By SHAMIM MASIH
Published: February 10, 2013
ISLAMABAD: Reformation for Empowerment and Alleviation of Poverty (REAP) and Youth Development Association (YDA) held a celebration to mark World Interfaith Harmony Week, observed annually during the first week of February.
A major goal of the Week is to make the ongoing work of interfaith groups to be made more visible to the world around. The thousands of events organized by these groups often go unnoticed not only by the general public, but also by other interfaith groups themselves.
In September 2010, His Majesty King Abdullah proposed the launch of the World Interfaith Harmony Week at the UN General Assembly, which adopted the initiative.
Re-affirming that “mutual understanding and inter-religious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace”, the UN General Assembly proclaimed “the first week of February of every year World Interfaith Harmony Week between all religions, faiths and beliefs”.
The week serves as a voluntary occasion for people to express their own religious teachings about tolerance, respect for others and peace, in hopes of bringing people together across the globe.
During the ceremony, held at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry Hall, attended by Dr. Rushadi al Ani- Iraqi Ambassador and eminent speakers, said the King had offered a gift to humanity through this proposal which was made clear during a speech to the UN General Assembly in October 2010 by His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi Bin Mohammad.
Pakistan, the largest Muslim populated (96%) country in world, has long suffered from internal conflicts due to sectarianism.
Jamshed Khan giving vote of thanks
Eminent speakers like Ashok Chand, Prof. Saqib Akber, Jennifer Javin and Romana Bashir addressed in the program and stressed on interfaith dialogue and need to promote social justice. They said that all religions teach to respect the basic rights of the human. Different faiths do not bind in limits but allow caring others cultural and mutual respect, so that every citizen of every country can live peaceful life.
Group photos of the participants with chief guest
Romana Bashir, consultant for Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in Pakistan said that the harmony we are pushing for is democratic, and built on effective communication and mutual respect.
Gatherings and activities for World Interfaith Harmony Week have been held in various countries across the world with diverse backgrounds, including Pakistan, Indonesia, Italy, and Jordan, she added.
Ashok Chand proposed the idea with the aim of achieving a “faith-driven world harmony by extending its call beyond the Muslim and Christian community to include people of all beliefs and those with no set religious beliefs as well”.