The world community should step up the fight against terrorism by delinking the menace from religion and ensuring that no country promotes terrorists or provides them sanctuaries and funds, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday.
Modi’s remarks, made while addressing a community event, amplified what he had said earlier in the day at the East Asia Summit and at recent multilateral gatherings. More security cooperation alone, he said, would not be enough to address international terrorism.
“Terrorism is the biggest threat to the world today. It knows no boundary. It uses the name of religion to draw people to its cause,” he told an adulatory crowd of about 15,000 at the Malaysia International Exhibition and Convention Centre in Kuala Lumpur.
But the use of religion by terror groups to recruit is “false” because terrorism “kills people of all faiths”, he said. “We have to delink religion from terror.
The only distinction is between those who believe in humanity and those who do not.”
Reiterating the call he made at two weekend summits and bilateral meetings on the margins of the ASEAN Summit, Modi said the world “must come together to combat the biggest challenge of our times”.
“But when I say that the world must come together, it is not just about more security cooperation,” he said amid loud cheers from the crowd comprising people of Indian origin and expatriates.
“It also means ensuring that no country uses or promotes terrorism. There are no sanctuaries. There are no funds. There are no arms,” he added.
Countries will also have to “work within our societies and with our youth. We need the support of parents, communities and religious scholars. And we have to make sure that internet does not become a recruiting ground,” he said.
Traditional responses to terrorism - strengthening intelligence cooperation, using military force and making the international legal system for cooperation stronger – would not be enough, he indicated.
“We have to promote peaceful relations, mutual understanding and cooperation in our region,” Modi said at the event, speaking in English because many members of the Indian diaspora in Malaysia hail from south India and are unfamiliar with Hindi.
“So, all nations in the region, big and small, should work together to ensure that our nations remain safe, our seas secure and free for commerce, and our economies prosperous.”
Referring to an event earlier in the day at which he had unveiled a statue of Swami Vivekananda, Modi said the monk had drawn on India’s ancient wisdom to make a call for unity in the world.
“And at a time of great challenges in the world, this statue on the soil of Malaysia is a reminder to the world of the values we so deeply need to repair the fault-lines that are tearing our societies apart,” he said.
India, he remarked, was torn by Partition at its birth but continued to be united while drawing strength from its diversity.
“India is a proud democratic nation of 1.25 billion people, who have a chance to exercise their franchise...It is a nation, where every citizen belongs; where everyone has equal rights that the Constitution guarantees, the courts protect and the government defends,” he added.