Educate people on Islam’s ‘original principles’, fight extremism: Ajit Doval appeals Ulema

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National Security Advisory Ajit Doval said on Tuesday that Ulemas have a “vital role” to play in countering radicalisation and extremism by propagating progressive ideas and thought, reported Press Trust of India (PTI).

In his opening remarks at a dialogue between the Indonesian and Indian delegation of Ulema and leaders of other faiths, Doval said the cooperation of the civil society is essential “in countering the threat from ISIS-inspired individual terror cells and returnees from theatres like Syria and Afghanistan”.

“…both our countries 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.”

“Cooperation of the civil society is essential in countering the threat from ISIS-inspired individual terror cells and returnees from theatres like Syria and Afghanistan,” Doval said, as per the report.

Emphasising the important role of Ulema in Islamic society, Doval said the aim of the discussion is to bring together Indian and Indonesian Ulema and scholars “to promote tolerance, harmony and peaceful co-existence which will bolster the fight against violent extremism, terrorism and radicalisation”.

Urging the need to develop a common narrative on deradicalisation, Doval said in a democracy there is no place for hate speech, prejudice, propaganda, demonisation, violence, conflict and misuse of religion for narrow ends.

Drawing attention towards youths who are becoming the “primary target” of radicalisation, Doval said if their energies are nurtured in the right direction, they can become “harbingers of change” and building blocks of progress in any society.

As per the report, he said we also need to counter disinformation and propaganda that can “impede peaceful co-existence” among the followers of different faiths. The NSA said state institutions also need to come together to detect and identify potential negative influencers and share information to counter their activities.

“In this, Ulema, due to their deep connect with civil society, can play a vital role,” he said. Doval said the essence lies in disseminating positive discourse far and wide, and not merely reacting to the agenda set by inimical forces.

“While technology is a blessing for humanity, it is also being misused by anti-social elements to spread hatred and for disruptive purposes. The Ulema must also be adept in the use of technology and utilise various technological solutions to thwart the evil designs of propaganda and hate,” he said Doval said

“They have a leading role in educating the people on the original tolerant and moderate principles of Islam and countering radicalisation and extremism with progressive ideas and thought,” he said.

He said, “none of the ends” for which extremism, radicalisation and the misuse of religion are employed is justifiable on any ground.

He said we should focus on the “real message” of our religions which stands for humanism, peace and understanding. “Indeed, as the Holy Quran itself teaches, killing one person is like killing all humanity and saving one is akin to saving humanity. Islam ordains that the most excellent form of Jihad is ‘Jihad Afzal’ — that is, Jihad against one’s senses or ego — and not against innocent civilians,” Doval said.

The Indonesian delegation of Ulema is accompanying Mohammad Mahfud MD, coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, who is on a visit to India on the invitation of Doval who had attended the second India-Indonesia Security Dialogue on 17 March in Jakarta, as per PTI’s report.

Accepting the invitation to visit India, Mahfud, the counterpart of the NSA in Indonesia, had expressed the wish to bring a delegation of Ulema and leaders of other faiths in Indonesia to India during the visit where they can interact with their Indian counterparts in a more “formal setting”, officials have said.

The dialogue is aimed at bringing together Indian and Indonesian Ulemas and scholars who can take forward cooperation in promoting tolerance, harmony and peaceful co-existence, Doval said. (PTI)

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