Modi stresses need to fight terror
India has a “unique heritage of plurality” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, praising India’s Islamic heritage and the need to fight extremism, at an event he attended along with Jordan’s King Abdullah II here on Thursday.
Calling India’s democracy a “celebration of our plurality” Mr. Modi said, “The fight against terrorism, extremism and radicalisation is not against any religion but against a mentality that is misleading our youth to commit atrocities on others.”
“Those who attack humanity in a barbaric way perhaps don’t themselves understand that they are harming the very religion they claim to defend,” he said. he continued, with a message that appeared directed at both Islamist terrorist groups and Hindu extremist groups responsible for attacks in recent years. His speech was also seen as showcasing India’s ability to fight extremism to the international community, as well as a domestic political message.
Agreeing with Mr. Modi, King Abdullah said it was time to “take back the airwaves and Internet from the voices of hatred.” “The truth is today’s war against terror is not a fight between peoples of different religions. It is between moderates of all faiths and extremists whose faith is hate and violence,” he added.
King Abdullah also said that scholars in India had stuck to pluralistic traditions from the ancient times. “Here in India, hundreds of years ago, Muslim scholars learnt and translated from Sanskrit, while Hindu librarians collected texts of many traditions.”
The event, organised at Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan for the two leaders on the theme “Islamic Heritage: promoting understanding and moderation”, was attended by hundreds of Islamic scholars, and clerics, with leaders of every school of Islamic faith and all eight schools of Islamic Jurisprudence present.
Many diplomats were present as well, including Pakistani Ambassador Sohail Mahmood, and others, from the Arab world.
“At a time when values like tolerance and harmony are in deep stress, a call for greater understanding is very welcome,” Mr. Mahmood told The Media, adding, “We need the leadership everywhere to promote the noble cause of moderation and coexistence.”
King Abdullah has a special position as the 41st generation descendant of Prophet Mohammad, and the custodian of the Holy Sites in Jerusalem, and has spearheaded the “Aqaba process” and the “Amman declaration” on deradicalising youth and fighting the threat of Al Qaeda and ISIS. Both leaders recognised the two scholars present in the audience who had signed the “Amman message” of moderation in 2006.
One of the scholars, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind general secretary Mahmood Madani also released an Urdu translation of a book on Islam written by King Abdullah’s cousin Prince Ghazi, which Mr. Modi said he hoped the youth around the world would read.
Mr. Madani said Islamic traditions decree that “national interest is supreme.” “Our elders believe that the interest of Indian Muslims can never be separate from the national interest of India,” he added.
Mr. Modi also spoke of the traditions of Sufi Islam in the country, and the importance of the “Ganga Jumni sanskriti” (culture of confluence) that marked relations between Hinduism and Islam, as well as other religions in the country, that marked India’s unique position.
“It is time the Indian leadership owned our heritage of plurality and moderate Islam that India has always had, and take that to the world,” the custodian of the Ajmer Sharif Sufi Shrine, Salman Chisty told reporters after the event.