OIC conference: Muslims in India microcosm of its diversity: Swaraj

India’s external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj Friday told a conference of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation that Muslims in India were a microcosm of its diversity and very few of them have “fallen prey to the poisonous propaganda of radical and extremist ideologies”.

Addressing the plenary of the conference as a ‘guest of honour’, a first for India, she referred to India’s strong bonds with several member countries of the OIC including Bangladesh, Maldives and Afghanistan which are in its neighbourhood.

Swaraj expressed gratitude to Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh and “others friends” for their strong support “for hearing India’s voice in this forum”.

She also referred to Iran, saying the mutual partnership was vital for stability and prosperity in the region.

The minister said she was honoured to join her colleagues from nations that represent a great religion and ancient civilisations.

She said she was carrying greetings of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and 1.3 billion Indians, including more than 185 million Muslim brothers and sisters, and was 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.

“Our Muslim brothers and sisters are a microcosm of the diversity of India. They speak Tamil and Telugu, Malayalam and Marathi, Bangla and Bhojpuri or any of the numerous languages of India. 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”.

She said Muslims in India practice their respective beliefs and live in harmony with each other and with their non-Muslim brethren.

“It is this appreciation of diversity and coexistence that has ensured that very few Muslims in India have fallen prey to poisonous propaganda of radical and extremist ideologies”.

PAKISTAN FM WON’T ATTEND MEET

Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi Friday announced he will not attend a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in the UAE due to his Indian counterpart’s presence at the event.

Qureshi made the announcement in a joint session of the parliament which continued on Friday amid tensions between India and Pakistan, Geo News reported.

“I have decided not to attend OIC Council of foreign ministers meeting in Abu Dhabi,” he said, adding that a lower-level delegation from Pakistan will attend the OIC session and the delegation will “staunchly oppose any move to grant observer status to India at the body”.

Qureshi informed the Parliament that he requested the OIC to either rescind the invitation or postpone the session in view of the prevailing situation, neither of which was done.