Speaking in Room 200 of the West Block of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, the venue in the early 1980s of parliamentary public hearings for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, many of the presenters articulated common themes: the need to reintroduce large parts of the Muslim world to the pluralist essence of Islam; the importance of countering exclusivist interpretations of faith; and the necessity of building bridges with other religious communities.
‘Pluralism is not simply the acknowledgement of diversity. It is also the capacity to negotiate difference.’ Nanji iterated that just as we acknowledge and pay tribute to the multiplicity within nature, ‘it is very important that Muslims acknowledge and recognise that they should pay tribute to their own diversity. They should not see it as a weakness. They should not see it as something that takes away from Islam. It enriches and it profits us to acknowledge our diversity.’
WEBB (http://www.webb-international.org/) was established to mobilise women to engage in building bridges of human understanding and engage in positive action for peace and harmony. ‘Diversity in Islam: Bridging the Gaps’ was organised with the support of the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Embassies of Indonesia, the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Islamic Republic of Iran.