I don’t believe that societies are born pluralist. Pluralism has to be omnipresent in civil society … it’s got to be part of the way a society is constituted.

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Interviewers: Chris Mikula and Hayley Mick

The Aga Khan says the Muslim world has been late to join the West in the debate over the most pressing ethical issues of our time, such as stem-cell research.

The Islamic world is far behind on some of these issues and yet we’re facing them all the time,

the leader of 15 million Ismaili Muslims told the Citizen editorial board in a rare interview yesterday.

Muslims will be looking to the Judeo-Christian debate when they, too, begin addressing them.

But the soft-spoken imam also emphasised that the West has a poor grasp of Islam and the difference between faith and politics — contributing to an ominous cultural divide that he says can only be lessened by education, democracy building and dialogue.

Unless the definition of an educated person includes basic knowledge about 1.4 billion people and their histories and their civilisations … we are going to continue to live in a situation where this lack of understanding is there.

… One of the world’s most wealthy and influential men, the Aga Khan has made no secret of his admiration for Canada. He has often articulated his desire to see this country export its greatest asset to the world: multiculturalism.

Canada has been very humble about this. We all know it’s always a work in progress, but bringing the capacity to think around the notion of a pluralist society is very important.

He will add $40 million to the federal government’s $30 million investment in the Global Centre for Pluralism, a research institute. Construction on Sussex Drive will begin next spring. He says he wants to see Canada share its pluralist values globally through development work and institutional capacity building.

I don’t believe that societies are born pluralist. Pluralism has to be omnipresent in civil society … it’s got to be part of the way a society is constituted.

SOURCES

  • Ottawa Citizen, 8 June 2005 (Text (secondary source): ismaili.net)

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