“The Global Centre for Pluralism – which was established by His Highness the Aga Khan and the government of Canada, and of which I am a board member- defines pluralism as a concept which not only respects diversity, but actually values and celebrates it because of its recognized benefits to society.”
Bali Democracy Forum IX – Religion, Pluralism, and Democracy
Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia
December 7th, 2016
“Mr. President, Excellences, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is a privilege to speak to you today on one of the most important issues of our time: the relationship between religion, pluralism, and democracy.
Let me say at the outset that I believe that religion, pluralism and democracy are not incompatible. To the contrary, I believe that that they should be mutually reinforcing foundations of healthy, stable, and prosperous societies.
From the dawn of time, and at the four corners of the earth, religion and faith have provided humanity with ethical codes and spiritual guidance and comfort. At its best, religion has been a driving force for personal and social progress. Even in secular states, religious norms have inspired many of their laws and customs. But we cannot deny that religions have also often been instrumentalised to exclude, to persecute and even to kill “the other”, whether an external enemy or a close neighbour.
In our increasingly diverse societies, the only way to avoid conflict and ensure that all believers, whatever their faith, are able to practice freely is by ensuring that religion is tempered by the principle of pluralism. The Global Centre for Pluralism- which was established by His Highness the Aga Khan and the government of Canada, and of which I am a board member- defines pluralism as a concept which not only respects diversity, but actually values and celebrates it because of its recognized benefits to society.
… Ladies and Gentlemen, no one is born a good democrat and no one is born a good citizen. It was an Indonesian, Alwi Shihab, who noted that democracy is a habit we need to cultivate. Mutual respect and tolerance have to be fostered and passed on to each successive generation. We have to learn from each other, making our different traditions and cultures a source of harmony and strength, not discord and weakness. Only by learning from each other can we build a global community based on those core truths that every religion teaches us: respect and love for all humanity, because we are all the children of God.”
Discover, Explore & Learn more- Read the complete speech at Kofi Annan Foundation | Religion, Pluralism, and Democracy/a>
Research, Insight & Perspective by A. Maherali