Different faiths, same message

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November 19, 2015 12:15 PM

The heads of some different faiths in Lloydminster recently gathered for an informal social to show religious unity shortly after the deadly attacks in Paris last week.
Organized by Reverend Paul DuVal of Grace United Church and held at the Lloydminster Islamic Centre, the event saw local residents of different religions gather in defiance of terrorism and the division it seems bent on creating.
The mood was welcoming and jovial as those gathered ate snacks, drank tea and talked about the importance of solidarity, not just in the wake of tragedy, but in everyday life.
“In light of the massacre in Paris last week and some heightened anxiety we’re experiencing all around the world now, I just felt it was important to express respect and support for the Islamic community in Lloydminster,” said Duval.
“These are people who live with us, work with us and they’re not part of terrorism and it’s important that on behalf of my faith community that we acknowledge that they are welcome here and that we value their commitment and contribution in the city.”
DuVal said he’s grateful to Imam Hofiz Huda of the Lloydminster Islamic Centre for hosting the event and to Imam Tariq Azeem of the local Ahmadiyya Muslim community, who brought members of his faith to share in the social gathering.
Some of us would like to believe Canada is immune from the current evils and challenges that face the rest of the world, said Duval, but he pointed out we’re all human beings and just because we follow different faiths, it doesn’t mean we don’t share a common humanity.
“I think one of the challenges that all of us face today is really a choice,” he said.
“And the choice is whether we will embrace humanity and see each other as brother and sister or whether we will divide our humanity up into ever smaller segments and ever more increasing tensions between the disparate parts of the world. I choose to embrace humanity and to draw people together.”
Azeem said the plan for the event was to come together and stand in solidarity, sending a clear message to the public that all faiths are united and to communicate tolerance and love to the people of Lloydminster.
There is some concern when people are exposed to certain events on mainstream and social media, they might be tempted to paint all people of one religion with the same brush.
“When the leaders of different faiths come and sit together it attests to people belonging to those faiths that, if our leader is saying these things, it is very likely that people of different faiths, not all of them are the same and their teachings aren’t as perverted as the media sometimes make them out to be,” said Azeem.

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