Don't equate Islam with terrorism: Islamic leader

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United Nations, Dec 20: Condemning the worldwide efforts to equate religion with terrorism, world's top diplomat for Islam, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu on Friday, Dec 19 said the 'demonisation' of Muslim around the world must be fought.

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu speaking soon after the UN General Assembly passed an Islamic-sponsored resolution condemning 'defamation of religion' for the fourth year in a row, he said his group was committed to respecting freedom of expression.

"There was a rising tide of incitement to religious hatred and discrimination and intolerance targeting Muslims", he told a meeting called by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) at the United Nations in Geneva. The 57-nation OIC, based in Saudi Arabia, represents 1.5 billion Muslims.

"Attempts to equate Islam with terrorism should be stopped. Stereotyping and demonisation of Muslims should be combated," said Ihsanoglu, a Turkish history professor who became OIC Secretary-General in 2005.

In a statement on Ihsanoglu's remarks, Geneva spokesman for the International Humanist and Ethical Union Roy Brown argued that Islam was often linked to terror because perpetrators of many terrorist acts identify themselves as Muslims.

Critics of the OIC -- including countries who voted against the "defamation" motion at UN headquarters in New York on Thursday -- say many Islamic states use defamation or "blasphemy" laws against minorities and free-thinkers.

Referring to the UN vote, in which for the first time since the OIC introduced a "defamation" motion in 2005 more countries voted against or abstained than voted for, Ihsanoglu said the motives of the Islamic grouping were misunderstood.


OneIndia News (With inputs from Agencies)

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