India's external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj Fridaytold a conference of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation that Muslims inIndia were a microcosm of its diversity and very few of them have "fallen preyto the poisonous propaganda of radical and extremist ideologies".
Addressing the plenary of the conference as a 'guest ofhonour', a first for India, she referred to India's strong bonds with severalmember countries of the OIC including Bangladesh, Maldives and Afghanistanwhich are in its neighbourhood.
Swaraj expressed gratitude to Saudi Arabia, Bangladeshand "others friends" for their strong support "for hearing India's voice inthis forum".
She also referred to Iran, saying the mutual partnershipwas vital for stability and prosperity in the region.
The minister said she was honoured to join her colleaguesfrom nations that represent a great religion and ancient civilisations.
She said she was carrying greetings of Prime MinisterNarendra Modi and 1.3 billion Indians, including more than 185 million Muslimbrothers and sisters, and was representative of a land that has been for ages afountain of knowledge, a beacon of peace, a source of faiths and traditions andhome to religions from the world.
"Our Muslim brothers and sisters are a microcosm of thediversity of India. They speak Tamil and Telugu, Malayalam and Marathi, Banglaand Bhojpuri or any of the numerous languages of India. They have diverseculinary tastes, myriad choices of traditional attire, and they maintain strongcultural and linguistic heritage of the regions they loved and have lived forgenerations".
She said Muslims in India practice their respectivebeliefs and live in harmony with each other and with their non-Muslim brethren.
"It is this appreciation of diversity and coexistencethat has ensured that very few Muslims in India have fallen prey to poisonouspropaganda of radical and extremist ideologies".
PAKISTAN FM WON'T ATTEND MEET
Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi Fridayannounced he will not attend a meeting of the Organisation of IslamicCooperation in the UAE due to his Indian counterpart's presence at the event.
Qureshi made the announcement in a joint session of theparliament which continued on Friday amid tensions between India and Pakistan,Geo News reported.
"I have decided not to attend OIC Council of foreignministers meeting in Abu Dhabi," he said, adding that a lower-level delegationfrom Pakistan will attend the OIC session and the delegation will "staunchlyoppose any move to grant observer status to India at the body".
Qureshi informed the Parliament that he requested the OICto either rescind the invitation or postpone the session in view of theprevailing situation, neither of which was done.