At spl meeting with ulema, NSA Doval’s status check on challenges posed by terror

Updated on Nov 29, 2022 10:07 PM IST

NSA Ajit Doval said there is no room for “hate speech, prejudice, propaganda, demonisation, violence, conflict and misuse of religion” in democracies.

NSA Ajit Doval addressed a special meeting of ulema or Muslim scholars of India and Indonesia (ANI)
NSA Ajit Doval addressed a special meeting of ulema or Muslim scholars of India and Indonesia (ANI)

NEW DELHI: India has largely overcome the challenges posed by terrorism and separatism but cross-border and Islamic State-inspired terrorism continue to pose a threat to the country, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval said on Tuesday.

Addressing a special meeting of ulema or Muslim scholars of India and Indonesia, Doval said both countries have to work together on de-radicalisation. He also pointed out that there is no room for “hate speech, prejudice, propaganda, demonisation, violence, conflict and misuse of religion” in democracies.

Doval’s Indonesian counterpart Mohammed Mahfud Mahmodin, who also addressed the gathering, said the meeting will allow both sides to learn from each other about the best practices for preserving peaceful and harmonious societies. Religion, he said, should be a “source of peace, not reason for discord, conflict or violence”, and it should be used as a unifying tool.

The meeting of the ulema was one of the highlights of the official visit to New Delhi by the Indonesian leader, popularly known as Mahfud MD. Besides holding bilateral talks with Doval, Mahfud MD also met external affairs minister S Jaishankar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday.

Doval told the gathering that both India and Indonesia have been victims of terrorism and separatism. “While we have overcome the challenges to a considerable extent, the phenomenon of cross-border and ISIS-inspired terrorism continues to pose a threat,” he said.

The cooperation of the civil society is essential for countering the threat from “ISIS-inspired individual terror cells and returnees from theatres like Syria and Afghanistan”, Doval added.

The NSA emphasised that “none of the ends for which extremism, radicalisation and the misuse of religion are employed are justifiable on any ground”. He said: “This is a distortion of religion against which all of us need to raise our voices. Extremism and terrorism [are] against the very meaning of Islam because Islam means peace and well-being.”

In addition to countering disinformation and propaganda that can impede peaceful coexistence among followers of different religions, India and Indonesia need to work jointly on developing “common narratives” on de-radicalisation. “In a democracy, there is no place for hate speech, prejudice, propaganda, demonisation, violence, conflict and misuse of religion for narrow ends,” Doval said.

Doval said the meeting was being held at a “time of tremendous churn in international relations and uncertainty about the future”, and India and Indonesia, with their experience of multi-faith harmony, can send “a joint message to the world to eschew violence and conflict”. He added, “Together, we should strive to propagate moderate virtues of Islam as a beacon of hope and cooperation for the entire world.”

Mahfud MD said Indonesia, as a pluralistic nation, has many differences and challenges, but has learnt that a tolerant and democratic country allows such differences and diversity to strengthen unity. The ulema and other religious leaders in Indonesia have made significant contributions in solving social challenges, he added.

A joint statement issued by the ulema of the two countries said the meeting discussed challenges such as religious radicalisation, extremism and propaganda that can impede peaceful coexistence among followers of different faiths and agreed on the need to work together to develop common narratives on de-radicalisation.

“The participants denounced all hate speech, prejudice, propaganda, demonisation, violence, conflict and condemned the misuse of religions for these ends. The discussions emphasised the need to contribute all efforts possible towards building mutual understanding, trust, and respect in order to build secure, peaceful, and prosperous societies,” the statement said.

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