The international COEXIST campaign came to Afghanistan last week with an impressive function at the French Embassy in Kabul.
The brainchild of Nahid Shahalimi – an Afghan-born human rights activist, author, filmmaker and artist – the goal of this campaign is to spread the message of unity across the world.
In the words of Ms. Shahalimi, COEXIST aims to “make over 7 billion people aware of the importance of unity and promote acceptance, tolerance, respect and peace”.
The event in Kabul was hosted by Jean-Michel Marlaud, the French Ambassador to Kabul, and saw many top-notch diplomats, activists, artists and Afghan government officials in attendance.
As part of the worldwide campaign, seven paintings will go to seven continents, and seven wonders of the world for seven years.
Ms. Shahalimi will gather signatures and statements of people from all walks of life including politicians, celebrities from different fields, human rights activists and Nobel Laureates.
Each signature will be documented through films and photography – spreading the word across the world, says Ms. Shahalimi.
“Once a painting is filled with signatures, they will then be auctioned and all the profit will go directly to different charitable foundations worldwide,” she said.
Among those who have endorsed the campaign include former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, 2014 World Cup winner Gérôme Boateng, Grammy winner Lisa Standsfield, Hollywood actress and philanthropist Kelly Rutherford, President of Starkey Hearing Aid Foundation Bill Austin, and former German footballer and UNICEF ambassador Jens Lehmann.
Ms. Shahalimi, who was born in Kabul and now lives and works in Munich, has earned international fame as an artist, filmmaker and philanthropist.
“To coexist by definition means to exist together or at the same time,” she says. “To me, it means world unity, tolerance, multiculturalism, respect and praising diversity; regardless of gender, nationality, race, religion or colour.”