After engaging in interfaith dialogue for years, Syed Soharwardy took his crusade to the streets of Halifax yesterday, as he set off on a cross-country walk against violence.
“Walking will give me an opportunity to shake hands with people — to go to small towns, sit down with them, eat with them,” he said. “You can’t reach out to people in places of worship only.”
But spreading his message requires more than simply walking the walk. To finance the trek to Victoria, B.C., the 52-year-old Calgary man re-mortgaged his home. Including the purchase of an RV with sleeping quarters, a kitchen and bathroom, he estimates the journey will cost between $200,000 and $300,000.
“Hopefully we will get enough money raised to pay off that loan,” said the IT specialist, at the beginning of a nine-month leave of absence.
The multi-faith initiative, he said, is worth the financial risk. The prevalence of suicide bombings, domestic violence and gang violence across all faiths has touched him deeply.
“Violence takes place in any part of the world, it becomes news, and when you turn on news, it affects you. When you read papers, it affects you,” said the Pakistan-born Soharwardy, who is the founder of Muslims Against Terrorism.
“I think we should do something about it and say this is wrong. Violence is absolutely wrong. No religion endorses violence,” he said.
Soharwardy encourages people from all religions and backgrounds to join him for a portion of the journey.
“This is not just a Muslim walk. This is walk of all faith. This is walk of all Canadians,” he said.