Last week, I co-chaired the Edinburgh Interfaith Association annual conference, aptly held in the Mandela Room of the City Chambers.
The event brought together religious representatives and faith representatives from a great number of communities from across our city to discuss the theme, What is Community?
The most reverend Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews and Edinburgh joined me in welcoming the many leaders and representatives, including key senior officer from Police Scotland, to the event.
We were also joined by Catriona Robertson, director of the Christian Muslim Forum and convener of the London Boroughs Faiths Network, to share her experiences.
The conference was a great event for all involved to share their experiences, good and bad, of diversity, the challenges facing us all and how we can work together.
I was particularly moved to hear a young Muslim woman speak freely of how, in her opinion, “we need to have the opportunity to meet each other more, perhaps outwith religious buildings, and by speaking with each other, learn to respect difference”.
It’s that type of discussion that we need to have to break down false perceptions and barriers so that communities can flourish.
Across the world we see horrible actions claimed in the name of religion, with the right-wing media promoting the wrong messages, creating fear and hatred from their spin.
The conference agreed that each of us need to take time to promote the work we do and celebrate the work that happen in the city’s churches, mosques, gurdwara and temples to name a few.
We also heard from Pall Singh, who spoke of some innovative work being carried out by “Faithful Friends”, which is an interfaith befriending project designed to help address the problems of loneliness and isolation faced by some people in our society.
With representatives from many faiths and religions, the city council and Police Scotland joining this interfaith event, I hope it will open up further opportunities for working together, breaking down any barriers that exist.
Edinburgh is, and will continue to be, a vibrant and welcoming city – welcoming to faiths and religions of all types. I will in the coming months and years ahead make sure I play my part in bringing communities together, and hope many others will play their part also.
Councillor Cammy Day is the Labour Group leader at Edinburgh City Council