Saharanpur (UP), Nov 3 (ANI): Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday said a nation can ignore its minorities only at its peril, and pointed out that it is the duty of the majority to protect the minority, be it religious, racial or linguistic.
Speaking at the 30th general session of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind here, Chidambaram said: "We must always remember that pluralism is our inheritance and strength. It was the duty of the majority to protect the minority."
"We cannot view Islam as an alien faith because this is the land of your forbears; this is the land of your birth; and this is where you will live and work. It is a matter of pride for us that all major religions of the world, including Islam, exist and thrive in India," he added.
He also said that the demolition of the Babri Masjid was a manifestation of religious fanaticism and an act of extreme prejudice.
"Likewise, taking to the path of violence in the name of religion must also be deplored in unequivocal terms," he added.
Chidambaram said he was glad to note that the Darul Ulloom at Deoband issued a 'fatwa' against terrorism on February 25, 2008 and categorically stated that 'Islam rejects all kinds of unwarranted violence, breach of peace, bloodshed, killing and plunder and does not allow it in any form'.
"I regard that decree as a call to duty to not only Muslims but to all right thinking people. I would urge that more voices be raised against terrorism," he added.
The Home Minister said the government was committed to protect the rights of the minorities at a time when minorities in other countries were being targeted.
"We have no hesitation in speaking for the rights of Muslims at a time when Tamils were denied their rights in Sri Lanka and Indian students were attacked in Australia" he said. Condemning all manifestations of communalism, Chidambaram said, "The worst kind of communalism is unleashing communal violence. Violence and violent means to achieve any objective is the antithesis of a civilised society governed by the rule of law."
He said three lessons flow from a true assessment of the perils of communalism: "Firstly, we must strive to build a modern nation, secondly, we must reiterate the concepts of a civil society. And thirdly, we must expand the political freedoms and ensure that every person enjoys those undeniable and inalienable freedoms.
About 10,000 clerics, besides five lakh followers of Jamiat, are attending the three-day conference, which commenced on November 1.
The conference is being seen as an attempt by the UPA government to reach out to Islamic scholars. (ANI)