Imam & Pastor Film Premiered in Canada
07 March 2007
The auditorium of the National Library in Ottawa was filled to capacity for the Canada Premiere of The Imam & the Pastor on 26 February, 2007. The event, hosted by the Nigerian High Commissioner, was attended by members of twelve diplomatic missions, including four ambassadors, and two members of parliament.
The Anglican, United and Catholic Churches, the Muslim community, several other faith and interfaith groups and a number of NGOs were also represented, with people traveling from Toronto and Montreal to attend.
The documentary, produced by IofC’s FLTfilms, tells the remarkable story of Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye who moved from leading opposing armed militias to working together for peace and reconciliation between their respective communities.
The event was organized and co-sponsored by Initiatives of Change and Muslim Presence Canada with support from the local chapter of the World Conference of Religions for Peace and Ottawa Muslim-Christian Dialogue. IofC representative Richard Weeks was interviewed for ten minutes on Radio Islam, a weekly broadcast on the Ottawa CHIN radio.
The Nigerian High Commissioner, HE Olufemi George, gave a word of welcome and introduction to the film. Commenting on the clash of cultures, religions and civilizations that exists in the world, he said, ‘This need not be so, as this documentary so amply demonstrates… The documentary we are about to watch is truly remarkable in that the protagonists, leaders of their respective communities, were former hothead extremists who once led their followers in inter-communal killing and maiming. Then, like the biblical Saul on the road to Damascus, they receive a change of heart. The former rivals become collaborators for change.’
He said the film was testimony to the power of effective communication and dialogue in breaking down barriers of hatred and intolerance. He expressed appreciation for those who made the documentary. ‘In so doing, they have reminded us not only of the basic values common to all religions: compassion, forgiveness, love and respect for one’s neighbour, but also of the individual’s inalienable right to freedom of religion and worship.’
One could feel the incredible impact of this beautifully crafted film on the audience of 320 people, who broke into applause several times.
Fifty people left feedback on forms provided, among which were the following:
‘Very powerful. Would that such spirit would permeate the Middle-East.’ A senior diplomat from the region.
‘It’s so refreshing, revitalizing and heart warming to see difficult issues taken on with truth, acknowledging their complexities, and showing that there are workable solutions, if each human reaches deep in their heart.’ Member of Muslim Presence Canada
‘This transformation is the fruit of a passionate involvement & faith in the goodness of humanity and the power of love fostered by our common creator’. WCRP member
‘Very transparent, honest and informative – A great start to multi-faith cooperation.’ Producer, Radio Islam
‘Very moving, authentic and most important message – a beautiful offering of a true message of hope.’ Anglican Church member
One of the best documentaries on interfaith dialogue.’ Ottawa Sikh Society