A “Friendship Week” has been symbolically prefaced with opening an photo exhibition on interfaith and intercultural dialogue called “Something in Common”. The event took place on 24 July at Kyiv Region State Administration (KRSA), with Muslims as both co-organisers and participants.
The exhibition was facilitated by a social initiative “Informal Group of Interfaith Peace” under the auspices of KRSA Department of Culture, Ethnicities and Religions, with informational support from “Hromadskii Prostir” portal, “Islam in Ukraine” website (islam.in.ua), “Voskresinnia. Zhyve Radio” Station, Centre of Social Freedoms and Rabindranath Tagore Centre.
As for the goals of the project, the organisators say that through those pictures, they were trying to deliver the message of need for bringing the communication between people of different religions and cultures to the next level; make friends, not war; hear another person instead of ignoring them; establish cooperation instead of unsound competition; break stereotypes instead of erecting impassable barrier between people. For that reason, they’ve made a symbolical performance on the opening ceremony, with the pictures turned away from the viewers, hidden behind such words as “stereotypes”, “prejudice”, “walls”, “irritation”, “suspicion”, etc., and people of different religions and cultures turned them around to face the audience, delivering their own messages of peace and friendship.
Among the participants were young Muslim women Tetyana Evloeva and Sabina Afzel, Head of Department of Introducing Islam and Islamic Culture at CSUAUA “Alraid” Tariq Sarhan, Head of Commission of Interfaith Dialogue of Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Archpriest Ihor Shaban, Buddhist traveller Evhen Ikhelzon, Bahaist Gari Reusche, religious studies scholar and officer at Outreach Group “Vidkryta Bibliia” (“Open Bible”) Viacheslav Gorshkov, and many others.
Among the 40 pictures were works of both professionals and amateurs, sometimes even just funny “selfies”, for the facilitators aim to demonstrate rather interpersonal ties than photography skills.
“Indeed, not all the pictures of our exhibition are of high quality, but the interpersonal ties they depict are of truly high quality, and showing that was our goal,” says Liubov Yeremicheva, author of the project and initiator of social initiative “Informal Group of Interfaith Peace”. “During the six months since we launched our Group we captured plenty of beautiful moments of goodness, respect and even love between people of different religious views and even different ethnic backgrounds. Besides, here we have mood pics of our friends and partners. Sometimes even the smallest drop of tolerance and goodwill can change the taste of the whole ocean of embitterment and irritation that we can see in the world.”
Tariq Sarhan, Head of Department of Introducing Islam and Islamic Culture at CSUAUA “Alraid” and one of co-organisers, noted that the photo exhibition “Something in Common” is about creating background to get to know each other and secure peace:
“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you” [Qur’an, 49:13]. So the Qur’an stresses the words “know each other” even over “peace”, and this is very important, for people are always afraid of something they do not know and understand; hate someone they fear and feud those they hate. That is why knowing each other is the best means to bring people to peace,” said Mr.Sarhan.
According to Deputy Head of Administration at KRSA Viiacheslav Kucher, Ukrainians are a friendly nation, and it was symbolic to celebrate the World Friendship Day in such way. He was especially pleased that such exhibition took place at KRSA, for they always support such initiatives.
Head of KRSA Department of Culture, Ethnicities and Religions Ihor Podolianets’ in convinced that only in a joint effort can people built harmonious relations between the State and religious organisations and develop cohesion and tolerance between people of different religious views and create the best opportunities to involve them in Social, Economic, Spiritual and Cultural life of the State.
“Developing high morals in order to reach spiritual and national unity is one of the most topical issues of the present time. It will help all of us bring our society to harmony and tolerance, and motivate each of us to change for the better and develop our State. So holding such events is extremely important,” said Mr.Podolianets’.
Volodymyr Denshchykov, representative of PR Department at the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes that “Mutual respect and kindness between the believers of different religions and confessions bring peace and prosperity to the society. This exhibition is a wonderful example how easy the interfaith communication (while preserving your own identity) can be really easy”.
The exhibition contained pictures by Ali Mareei, Veronika Ergasheva, Halyna Zhovtko, Vitalii Nishchymenko, Olha Yurchenko, Olexandra Vyshniova, “Hromadskii Prostir” Portal, Round-the World Caravan “Interculture”, Mormonnews.org.ua, “Sotnia Yanholiv” (ukr. “100 angels”), and from the “Informal Group of Interfaith Peace” archives.
Guests and participants enjoyed live music, as well as presentation of a short movie “Serene Heart” about mutual help between people of different religions filmed by “Informal Group of Interfaith Peace” in early 2017.
According to Liubov Yeremicheva, on World Friends Day (30 july) those pictures are to be exhibited on Sofiivska Square in Kyiv