On May 26, 2012 Interfaith Youth in Action (IYA) / World Faith Pakistan (WFP) and the Youth Development Foundation organized a bus tour visiting places of worship in Lahore. 58 young people from the country’s different faiths groups participated in the tour which aimed at advancing interfaith relations and cooperation. The bus tour is a practical tool to foster interfaith understanding among religiously-diverse youth which is a determinant for peace and development in Pakistan.
The tour provided a unique experience and opportunity to visit different places of worship and to learn more about the beliefs, practices, and customs of the local faith traditions. The group visited a church, a mosque, a Baha’i temple, a Hindu Mandir, and a Sikh Gurdwara.
The youth of each community welcomed the participants and the religious leaders briefed them on their faith traditions, their history and conflict situations. Following this, the participants had the opportunity to ask additional questions in a Q & A session.
Anila Noor, Participant: Through this event I made friends with people from the Christian, Hindu, and Sikh community which never happened in my life before. Through these friendships we will contribute to build bridges between Pakistan’s different religious groups and we will try to inspire others to engage in interfaith activities.
Shahid Ghouri, Founding President of IYA/WFP: Through this event we provided a safe space for religiously-diverse youth to share information about their own faith and to learn more about other faith traditions. This is an important step to reduce common religious misconceptions and to advance interfaith relationships.
Fr. Ashraf Gill, Catholic Youth Director: The youth should get the chance to solve continuing interfaith differences by engaging in implementable interfaith activities, rather than interfaith seminaries or conferences which take place in an artificial environments, and which turned out to be of little efficiency in the Pakistani context.
At the end of the day all participants had the chance to share their feelings with the group and to explain what they have learned during the day. They were encouraged to make recommendations for future interfaith dialogue.
- Young people should get a better chance to use their potentials and their creative ideas for interfaith dialogue and ecumenism. (Christian participants)
- Religious leaders should better include youth to solve ongoing religious gaps to promote peace and development in Pakistan. (Muslim & Hindu participants)
- Interfaith groups should be introduced in every educational institution in order to educate, interact, and to develop relations among religiously-diverse youth. (All participants)