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Terrorism not linked to any religion: NSA Doval

Terrorism not linked to any religion: NSA Doval
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Says Islam occupies unique 'position of pride' amongst religious groups in India

New Delhi: Asserting that terrorism is not linked to any religion, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval on Tuesday said it is no coincidence that despite there being around 200 million Muslims, the involvement of Indian citizens in global terrorism has been “incredibly low”.

Noting that India has been a melting pot of cultures and religions that have co-existed in harmony for centuries, he also said Islam occupies a unique and significant “position of pride” amongst the religious groups in the country.

Doval was speaking at an event here organised by the Khusro Foundation and the India Islamic Cultural Centre in honour of Muslim World League (MWL) Secretary-General Sheikh Dr Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, who is on an India visit.

On his part, Al-Issa said Muslims in India are proud of their nationality and the Indian Constitution.

Doval also hailed Al-Issa as an authentic global voice of moderate Islam and a profound scholar with a deep understanding of Islam.

He also said India as the world’s largest democracy and the mother of democracies is a land of incredible diversity.

“In your (Al-Issa) talk you elaborately mentioned diversity as a fundamental trait of our existence. It (India) has been a melting pot of cultures, religions, languages and ethnicities that have co-existed in harmony for centuries. As an inclusive democracy, India has successfully managed to provide space for all its citizens regardless of their religious, ethnic and cultural identities,” he said.

“Amongst its numerous religious groups, Islam occupies a unique and significant position of pride with India being home to the second largest Muslim population in the world,” he said.

To give an idea of the scale we are talking about, India’s Muslim population is almost equal to the combined population of over 33 member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Doval added.

He asserted that India continues to play its role as a refuge to heterodox ideas with an infinite capacity to absorb dissent.

“Dissent does not mean disintegration, dissent does not essentially mean a confrontation. But in this country, because of your thought, because of your ideas, no one is under threat,” he said.

Doval stressed that as a proud civilisational state, India believes in promoting tolerance, dialogue and cooperation to deal with the challenges of our time.

“It is no coincidence that despite having around 200 million Muslims, the involvement of Indian citizens in global terrorism has been incredibly low,” he said.

“Yet the challenge of extremism and global terrorism compels us not to lower our guard to preserve the security and stability of our borders and also rise to the security challenges beyond,” he said.

Doval asserted that India has been leading the fight against individuals and organisations who are promoting extremism, narcotics and terrorism.

He also recalled the attack on the Grand Mosque in Mecca in 1979 to underscore the need for countering terrorism.

Noting that India has also been a victim of terrorism for many decades and has faced numerous terror attacks including the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, Doval said India has actively been working to combat terrorism through various means.

This includes strengthening its security apparatus, enacting new laws and cooperating with other countries to prevent terror activities, he added.

“However in this war against terror, even in the face of grave provocation India has upheld steadfastly the rule of law, rights of its citizens and protection of human values and human rights,” he said.

India is an “extremely responsible power” but when the need for hot pursuit against terrorist havens was felt it has gone all out to destroy terrorism in the national interest, the National Security Advisor said.

Noting that Al-Issa has in the past rejected any attempt to associate terrorism with any nationality, civilisation or religion, Doval said this is the absolutely right approach.

“Terrorism is not linked to any religion, it is the individuals that get misguided and it is probably the duty of spiritual and religious leaders to see that they can belong to any religion, faith, belief system or political ideology, but anyone who takes the path of violence will have to be countered as effectively,” he said.

Recalling Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘not an era of war’ assertion, Doval said in today’s world, with complex geopolitical challenges confronting us, religion has to become a beckoning light for humanity to usher in an era of peace and harmony.

“Our differences will have to take a backseat,” he said and added that future battles for the good of humanity will have to be fought against hunger, poverty and ignorance.

Hailing the “excellent” relations between India and Saudi Arabia, Doval said the ties were rooted in shared cultural heritage, common values and economic ties.

Our leaders share a common vision for the future and have been closely interacting with each other, the National Security Advisor said.

In his remarks, Doval also noted that Islam arrived in India in the 7th century during the life of Prophet Mohammad and gradually found a new home in this sub-continent.

Doval credited the spiritual content of Hinduism and Islam in bringing people together and helping in developing a social and intellectual understanding of each other.

It gave rise to a vibrant expression of peace and harmony, notwithstanding the vagaries of political ups and downs, he said.

While historians have focussed more on political events, they have failed to capture this underlying spirit of accommodation, tolerance and respect. The Holy Quran emphasises the importance of unity and understanding among people from diverse backgrounds, he said.

The philosophy of cooperation and dialogue in Islam has over centuries merged seamlessly with the ancient Hindu civilisational ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ – The World is One Family, he said.

Doval stressed that the edifice of modern India is built on equal rights and opportunities for all its citizens.

“Equality is guaranteed by our Constitution and law. This is also part of our thinking,” he said.

Al-Issa is here at the official invitation from the Indian government.

MWL is an international NGO headquartered in Mecca, with members from all Islamic countries and sects.

It aims to present Islam and its tolerant principles, provide humanitarian aid, extend bridges of dialogue and cooperation with all, engage in positive openness to all cultures and civilizations, follow the path of centrism and moderation and ward off movements calling for extremism, violence and exclusion.

Press Trust of India

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