World Faith Pakistan ran its first Diversity Tour to Worship Places this year, helping diverse participants change their opinions and traditional mindsets to look towards tolerance, interfaith harmony and peace building in Pakistan. Female participants were very interested in participating, as the tour was gender-balanced, and discussed engaging more females in their own hometowns by developing small groups of women peacebuilders. Participants also discussed the importance of engaging interfaith harmony in national curricula. Here are some testimonials from the participants:
“For the last 8 years, I have been passing by this road but have never been to the church. This is the first time that I have gotten the opportunity to visit the church and learn about the Christian faith. After participating in this diversity tour, I have started reading the Bible to find commonalities and to inspire more youngsters to participate in activities around interfaith peace and harmony.”
—24 year-old Muslim from Islamabad.
“It changed my stereotyped thinking about other faiths, particularly Islam; I found that all faiths are very open and welcoming in building relationships and collaboration.”
—26 year-old Christian from Lahore
“I never know about Baha’i faith; through this tour I now have so many Baha’i friends and would love to learn more about their, faith, belief and the challenges they have faced in Pakistan being small minority.”
—28 year-old Muslim from Lahore
“This tour helped me understand about Islam by meeting Muslim friends. By meeting and having a discussion with some of the Muslim youth, I came to know that those responsible for violence against Christians are people who have been brainwashed and have become fundamentalists and proclaim that they are the purest and reject other faiths or lifestyles but are faithless themselves”.
— 27 year-old Christian from Lahore
“Spending the whole day with the people from diverse faiths, sharing meals as well as life stories, has sowed the seed of tolerance and respect for other faiths in my heart.”
—28 year-old Muslim from Islamabad
“I have never visited a mosque before and my parents always advised me to avoid making Muslim friends because of blasphemy laws. Visiting Wazir Khan Mosque and spending the whole day with Muslim youth made me realize that if we can all live peacefully for one day than why not for a whole lifetime!”
—26 year-old Christian from Lahore.
“I had never met any Sikhs before; Lahore’s diversity tour helped me understand that rather than commenting on others faiths, we should accept other minorities living in Pakistan as they are. I had heard some many jokes about Sikhism from my childhood, but after visiting the Gurdawara and meeting with Taranjheet Sing, it changed my way of thinking about them.”
—22 year-old Muslim from Lahore
“After visiting Katas Raj Mandir during diversity tour of Islamabad; I was really touched and now I want to do something for minorities in Pakistan particular for Hindu community. I am planning to launch campaign to get help from government to support Hindu communities’ rights, protection and maintain their holy places in Pakistan.”
—25 year-old Muslim from Islamabad
“These sorts of activities are very rare in Pakistan, when I heard about this event which was not familiar to me; I thought that what would be the outcome of this activity (diversity tours to worship places). However after participation and meeting with diverse youth, my opinions have changed. I came to know that these activities can develop foundation of interfaith harmony, build bridge among faiths and curtail the extremism, intolerance, rigid or static beliefs of people of Pakistan.”
—29 year-old Muslim from Lahore