Tajik tyubeteykas (skullcaps) of all colors and styles and Kyrgyz caps, Christian priests’ hats and turbans, colorfully embroidered national and European dresses: everything here was festive, colorful and organic. The first Interfaith Festival “Tajikistan – Our Home” was held in Dushanbe.
About 150 representatives of various faiths and religious organizations gathered to meet and get to know each other. The event was initiated and held by the IWPR Tajikistan in partnership with the Committee of Religion, Regulation of Traditions, Celebrations and Ceremonies under the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan.
In his welcome speech, the Chairman of the Committee of Religion, Regulation of Traditions, Celebrations and Ceremonies Sulaimon Davlatzoda said that he was happy that this year ended with such a grand event as this Festival. He noted that the Committee always welcomed the followers of any faiths and supported tolerance and interfaith harmony.
Davlatzoda reminded that previously the Interfaith Council had worked under the Committee and now there are plans to resume the work of this body.
Abakhon Sultonnazarov, IWPR Central Asia Regional Director, emphasized the importance of this event in promoting tolerance among the younger generation and noted that belonging to different religions does not make us better or worse.
“We named this Festival “Tajikistan – Our Home” for a reason. All of us, Tajikistan residents, have common historical and cultural roots, and they became woven together. Our lives and lives of our future generations depend on how well we understand, respect and value each other,” said the IWPR Director.
At the beginning of the Festival, representatives of various Islamic and non-Islamic organizations made presentations about aspects that unite their religions and put forward their proposals to promote interfaith dialogue in Tajikistan.
Later during the Festival, its participants were divided into three groups to work in three parallel sessions. A film screening, performance “The Large Bazaar” and a talk show in the living library format were offered to the participants. Each of the festival participants was free to choose a session.
In the first session, two movies were screened and discussed: a short film “Airplane” and the French comedy movie “Serial (Bad) Weddings”. Both films addressed religious and national diversity and the need to live in peace and harmony.
During another session, participants were invited to take part in the performance “The Large Bazaar”. Guest directors produced the performance. For a short time, participants felt themselves as real actors. It was enjoyable to watch how all the participants, diplomats and Christian priests, high-ranking officials and Islamic mullahs participated in the performance, and they all felt comfortable and relaxed. At the end of the event, aspiring actors spoke to everyone and performed this sketch on the big stage.
In the third session, the participants were invited to the “living library”, where the “books” were people: representatives of different religions, a Catholic and Orthodox priests, representatives of the Ismaili and Baha’i schools, as well as a person who changed his religion. All participants were interested to learn about the ritual and religious features about which the heroes spoke.
The participants of the Festival were able to learn a lot about each other in a short time, as well as discuss the various values that need to be promoted in order to strengthen tolerance in Tajik society.
Muslihiddin Khojamirzoda, Coordinator of the Committee of Religion, Regulation of Traditions, Celebrations and Ceremonies under the Government:
This festival proves that we need to eradicate hatred and envy among different religions’ followers, since all religions, from the moment of their appearance to the present day, promote humanity and mutual respect.
Afzalshoh Sharifzoda, imam-khatib from Hisor:
I think this is an important and timely event, which was held at a high level. We hope that this is not the last Festival from the organizers. This was an important event for establishment a dialogue of religions, beliefs and faiths. During this event, we met representatives of different religions and shared common ideas.
Roman Chebonenko, Russian Orthodox Church Priest:
I have only positive feedbacks. Very good communication; in an unofficial, informal environment people can talk with each other, get to know each other better, find common ground. It is great that an independent organization not connected with a particular religion does this. It is very important.
Jamoliddin Nazarov, imam-khatib of the mosque “Domullah Muhammadnazar” in the Firdavsi district of Dushanbe:
The Holy Quran says, “God never forbid communicating with people of another faith”. According to this ayat, every Muslim’s obligation is to maintain good and kind relations with people of any religion.
In my opinion, we, the Tajiks, lack such events. There should be more such events so that Tajik Ulemas’ eyes open to world processes.
Roza Abdulina, Protestant, “OE Khate” employee:
There are some cases in Tajikistan when some people treat our religion without respect, but very rarely. I am very grateful that people in Tajikistan are tolerant of any religion. In my hometown, Levakant, everyone treats us with respect.
Kamoliddin Abdulaev, Senior Pastor of the House of Prayer Church for All Nations:
Religious tolerance is peaceful coexistence in society; it is necessary in every society in our world, where many difficulties and many things that separate us exist. We have different nationalities, faiths. Yet, realizing that we are different, we nevertheless must find common ground.
Zarina Dinorshoeva, Professor at the Philosophy and Political Science Faculty, RTSU:
Such events, forums, festivals, round tables that promote unification, mutual understanding of people of different cultures and faiths are necessary, relevant and should be regular. By holding such events, we can bring our ideas to a wide audience and count on mutual understanding.
Everything was at a high level, the program was interesting, interesting reports, speeches, discussions and the screened movie actually got me thinking. The format is excellent. Here, all the standards were followed, so when a person switched from one type of activity to another, it was not boring.
Padre Lopez, Head of the Catholic Church in Tajikistan:
The title of your Festival clearly states, “Tajikistan – Our Home”. Essentially, dialogue is very important for us to live in tolerance, in peace and mutual understanding.
It would be great if such Festivals were held in the regions too, to cover as many Tajikistan residents as possible.
Nargis Gafori, representative of the Baha’i community of Tajikistan:
Racial and religious prejudice is the root and source of misunderstanding and disagreement. If we strive to eradicate prejudice and learn to see people’s personality, not the skin color, religion, and so on, then we will come to agreement and unity.
A variety of cultures, languages, traditions is the wealth of the humanity. What unites us all is being human. This is unity in diversity, that is, we strive to build a single world civilization. However, unity does not imply uniformity; unity should be in diversity.
Abdujamol Khomidov, imam-khatib of Ghafurov district:
Today’s event was interesting, very important and timely; we spoke about tolerance, mutual respect between followers of different religions. Of course, we all are servants of God and must respect all religions and faiths. Interfaith relations in Tajikistan are very good. I think that today’s event will help improving relations between different religions.
Mavlodod Ibragimbekzoda, Ismaili caliph of Navobod jamoat, GBAO:
Such events are very important so that followers of different religions are tolerant of each other. Religious disputes and conflicts are pointless for any country or nation. Tolerance, in my opinion, means the ability to listen to each other, to respect the beliefs and traditions of each other.
Fazliddin Nasriddin, 4-year student of the Russian-Tajik Slavonic University:
Such Festivals are necessary because people have different stereotypes. It is necessary to perceive people as they are. I urge people to be friendly to others, no matter what religion they profess. The Festival was very interesting, and we hope that there will be more of such events.
Shahobiddin Shohin, resident of the Shohmansur district of Dushanbe:
Society cannot prosper without mutual understanding and opinions exchange. Each person is, first, a person. People should be tolerant of each other’s faith.