Terrorism is destroying lives, destabilising regions and putting the world at great peril, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting on Friday and asserted the war against the menace was not against any religion.
Attending the meeting in the shadow of heightened tension between India and Pakistan following the killing of 40 CRPF personnel in Kashmir's Pulwama district by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed, Swaraj, who is the first Indian minister to address the meeting of the 57 Islamic countries, said "very few" Muslims in India have fallen prey to the poisonous propaganda of radical and extremist ideologies.
"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. During her nearly 17-minute speech, she did not mention Pakistan.
"I carry the greetings of my Prime Minister Narendra Modiji and 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," the minister said at the meeting which was boycotted by Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
Pakistan had written a letter to the OIC demanding the withdrawal of the invitation to the plenary after New Delhi's counter-terror operations in Pakistan on February 26.
She also asserted that 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," Swaraj, who was the guest of honour at the meeting, said.
Swaraj said she is 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.
"They have diverse culinary tastes, myriad choices of traditional attire, and they maintain strong cultural and linguistic heritage of the regions they loved and have lived for generations. They practice their respective beliefs and live in harmony with each other and with their non-Muslim brethren," Swaraj said.