To say that Islam is synonymous with terrorism is "unjust and unfair", Indian actress-activist Shabana Azmi told an audience in Johannesburg as she launched a retrospective of her films.
"I think that the 9/11 crisis also became an opportunity, became it was the first time that Muslims got together to make the world realise that Islam is not homogenous, that it resides in 53 countries of the world, and becomes the culture of the country in which it resides," Azmi said.
The actress is on a tour of three South African cities this week as part of the 'Shared History Festival' that showcases Indian art, culture and cuisine each year for a six week period.
Participating in a discussion on Islam, Azmi said, "(Islam) is liberal in some countries, moderate in others, intolerant in some and extremist in the others. But it is not homogeneous. To say that Islam is synonymous with terrorism is unjust, unfair and cannot be accepted because it is a blatant untruth."
Questioned on the situation with Muslims in India, Azmi said that Muslims in India had "ample room to aspire", but that did not mean that discrimination does not exist there.
"Discrimination exists against minorities, it exists against women; it exists against Dalits. But the important thing is that there is a very robust civil society, and at the level of politics, that fights back and says this is not how we do it; so we have to draw comfort and strength from that."