06/28/2005, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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"A tool of peace and dialogue": an art exhibition in Lahore

by Qaiser Felix

Lahore (AsiaNews) – Peace, solidarity and inter-religious dialogue: these were the themes expressed in art works on display in the first national exhibition of sacred calligraphy.        

The exhibition was held at the Al-Hamra art gallery in Lahore from 15 to 22 June. Guest of honour was 45-year-old Shafiq Shad Khan, a renowned Christian-Muslim philosopher of Pakistan, who exhibited his works for the 111th time. The meeting was inaugurated by Mowahid Hussain Shah, assistant of the Punjab Prime Minister, and by Fr Francis Nadeem OFM.

Shah said: "This encounter highlights the artistic work carried out today on the Bible and the Koran, but above all it emphasises shared themes among Christianity and Islam… The themes of compassion and honesty are common to both religions; encounters like this are an effective means of remembering how many things we have in common and what our shared traits are."

The works exhibited by Khan confirm the inaugural speech: the artist presented calligraphic illustrations of sacred texts from both religions in Latin and Punjabi characters. Interviewed by AsiaNews, he said: "I did not learn my art in school, because it is a divine gift and so I want it to become a means to spread peace and solidarity."

According to Fr Emmanuel Asi, executive secretary of Pakistan's Biblical Commission, Khan's art is a "new, beautiful chapter in the history of inter-faith harmony and it is a great testimony to Christ, through art, in a Muslim country". Mgr John Saldanha, archbishop of Lahore, visited the exhibition and his comment was: "The works on display and the inter-religious unity they represent strengthens my faith."

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