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Terrorism is driven by distortion of religion: Sushma Swaraj tells OIC

NEW DELHI: In a major diplomatic achievement, India for the first time addressed the OIC meeting on Friday here, and asserted that the war against terrorism, which was destabilising regions and putting the world at great peril, was not against any religion.

India's participation came despite strong demand by Pakistan to rescind the invitation to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to address the grouping of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) which was turned down by the host UAE, resulting in Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi boycotting the plenary.

"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. The fight against terrorism is not a confrontation against any religion," Swaraj, who is the first Indian minister to address the meeting of the 57 Islamic countries, said.

Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, a senior minister in Indira Gandhi's cabinet who later became President, was invited to attend the Rabat conference in 1969 and then disinvited at Pakistan's instance after he arrived in the Moroccan capital. Since then, India has been excluded from all OIC deliberations.

Swaraj during her address read a verse from the Holy Koran which says 'La Ikrah fiddeen' - Let there be no compulsion in religion. "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," she said.

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