Abu Dhabi: India’s multicultural ethos and tolerance have dissuaded the youth from religious extremism and terrorism, Sushma Swaraj, Indian External Affairs Minister, said at 46th session of foreign ministers' meet of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Abu Dhabi.
While pointing out that terrorism has no religion she said terrorist infrastructure and support for its network should be dismantled, wherever it may be, without mentioning any country’s name.
Swaraj is the guest of honour at the two-day conference of the OIC, an influential bloc of 57 countries.
Sushma said, "I stand here as a representative of a land, that has been for ages a fountain of knowledge, a beacon of peace, a source of faiths and traditions, and home to religions from the world and now, one of the major economies of the world."
"I carry the greetings of 1.3 billion Indians, including more than 185 million Muslim brothers and sisters. Our Muslims brothers and sisters are a microcosm of the diversity of India itself."
Before the meeting, Swaraj met OIC Secretary General Yousuf Bin Ahmad Al Othaimeen and Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
It is for the first time India has been invited to a meeting of the OIC.
India's participation comes in the midst of ongoing tension on India- Pakistan border.
About terrorism, Swaraj said: “Terrorism and extremism bear different names and labels. It uses diverse causes. But in each case, it is driven by distortion of religion, and a misguided belief in its power to succeed.”
She said the fight against terrorism is not a confrontation against any religion. “It cannot be. Just as Islam literally means peace, none of the 99 names of Allah mean violence. Similarly, every religion in the world stands for peace, compassion and brotherhood.”
The minister said India has always embraced and found it easy to embrace pluralism since it is embedded in the oldest Sanskrit religious text “The Rig Veda”, which quoted as “God is One but learned men describe him in many ways".
Swaraj said: “This is not a clash of civilizations or cultures, but a contest of ideas and ideals. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi has often said, it is a struggle between the values of humanism and the forces of inhumanity.”
She highlighted India’s enhanced tis with West Asia, especially the UAE:
“In the past four years, few relationships have seen as much engagement, or has been so transformed, as India’s relationship with UAE and, indeed, with the entire Gulf and West Asia Region. In a sense, it is a return of history.”
Swaraj said India shares much with the OIC members. “Many of us have experienced the dark days of colonialism. Many of us saw, the light of freedom and the bright ray of hope at the same time. We have stood together in solidarity, in our quest for justice and dignity.
She concluded her speech by saying: “I come from land of Mahatma Gandhi, where every prayer ends with the call for Shanti or Peace for all.”