Sunday, June 15, 2008

Don't brand terrorism with Islam: Pranab

From The Economic Times

KOLKATA: Union External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday expressed vehement opposition to the tagging of terrorism with Islam, saying the idea, floated by the US after the attack on the World Trade Centre, was unacceptable.

"After the twin tower attack, the US floated worldwide the concept of Islamic terrorism. I am vehemently opposed to this." Mukherjee said at a seminar on 'Terrorism and Justice' organised by a Muslim NGO.

Describing Islam as an old religion with numerous followers, Mukherjee said clubbing the religion with terrorism could not be accepted.

On reported attacks on Bengali-speaking Muslims outside West Bengal accusing them of being Bangladeshi infiltrators, Mukherjee said during the NDA regime he had an argument on the issue with the then Home Minister L K Advani.

"I asked Sri Advani whether he could be called Pakistani infiltrator because he hailed from Sind. Most chief ministers of West Bengal hailed from erstwhile East Bengal. Can they be called infiltrators?" Mukherjee, who himself hailing from the Birbhum district of West Bengal, said.

Pointing out that it was not unusual for people from a smaller economy like Bangladesh to move into a bigger economy like India, he said, "this happens all over the world. But there is no reason to believe that lakhs of Bangladeshis are infiltrating into India as claimed by Sri Advani."

Chairman of West Bengal's ruling Left Front Biman Bose said all complaints of harassment of Muslims for speaking Bangla should be brought to the notice of the Chief Minister.

"These complaints should be looked into," Bose, also CPI(M) state secretary, said.

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