The African chapter of a global grassroots interfaith network for peace and justice has honoured a Catholic priest and an imam from Pakistan for their efforts toward interreligious harmony. Dominican priest Father James Channan and Abdul Khabir Azad, the great Imam of the royal mosque in Lahore, one of the largest in Asia, have been given the “Award for Interreligious Harmony” 2017 by the African branch of United Religions Initiative (URI). The two were held up as models to the entire African continent for interreligious harmony active in daily work.
"It is a recognition of the work to promote interreligious dialogue in Pakistan and around the world and to promote a culture of peace, justice, reconciliation and dialogue,” Fr. Channan told the Vatican’s Fides news agency. Fr. Channan who is URI Regional Coordinator for Pakistan and Executive Director of Peace Center, Lahore said that “recognitions like this feed the courage and daily work in order to break the walls of hatred between Christians and Muslims, and to build bridges of trust and respect". Fr. Channan and Abdul Khabir Azad have been working together for over for over 20 years. The two have visited numerous countries in the world to promote Islamic-Christian dialogue. "I thank God for the gift of my vocation to priesthood and to the Dominican Order because it gives me the opportunity to work for this important apostolate in Pakistan and around the world. I thank the Dominican Order because it supports every step in this field" Fr. Channan said.
In the current situation of violence and terrorism in Pakistan, Fr. Channan reaffirmed his commitment to "promote, with all men and women of good will, peace, justice and harmony to make Pakistan a better country in which all citizens, of any religion, can live peacefully". (Source: Fides)