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Indian Muslims are not terrorists: Farah Pandith

July 10, 2010 14:56 IST

A top official of the Barack Obama administration on Saturday said that Indian Muslims are not terrorists, though many of them are increasingly tired of being defined as such.

"I talk about the bloggers that I meet in India who are tired of Muslims being defined as terrorists," Farah Pandith, the United States Special Representative to the Muslim Community, said in a web video chat on Saturday.

"They're getting out there and talking about what's happening in India, with 160 million Muslims in India -- all of whom, by the way, are not terrorists, excuse me," asserted the Indian-American.

Pandith, who has travelled to more than two dozen Muslim countries and those with sizeable Muslim populations, said that the Obama administration is reaching out to this community across the world to change the widely held negative views about Islam and terrorism.

"The narrative has to change by the conversations that we are having, and not to put everything in one big bucket, just because, obviously, somebody maybe of one faith that does something bad does not mean that everybody of that faith is in that same bucket," she said in response to a question, adding that Muslims are trying very hard to push away any kind of narrative that would convey that impression.

"We as Muslims do not support the use of violence in any way, shape or form," she said. "You have seen cross-cultural responses to Muslims and non-Muslims working together to push back against any kind of violence," Pandith said.

"We need to do more to engage and build dialogue. And what this President has said is that it is a priority for us to engage Muslims around the world," she said.

"Overseas we're trying to build bridges that have been broken and trying to restore opportunities for dialogue. We want to see where we can be more useful in partnering and building initiatives. And that requires us to put a special effort, right at this moment in time, to develop new relationships. So that's why we're doing this," Pandith said.

The Obama administration official said the Muslim world is not a monolithic community, but very diverse.

"It's talking about diversity, and it's talking about things that this country stands for. When we talk about the West, Muslims are part of the West. There are 30 million Muslims in Western Europe. There are millions of Muslims in America," she said, adding that this is not a zero-sum game.

"It's not us versus them. It sort of debunks the entire Samuel Huntington theory of 'The Clash of Civilizations'. It's not the West versus the East. It's not America versus Islam. The President has talked very clearly about the fact that Islam is part of America," she said.

Lalit K Jha In Washington
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