16 February, Hyderabad
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has praised India for the “peaceful co-existence” of different religions and said Islamic scholars could play a key role in spreading knowledge and strengthening relations among communities and countries. “India is a main scene of peaceful coexistence among different religions in the world,” Rouhani said, addressing a group of Muslim scholars.
He described India as a “living museum” of different religions, faiths, beliefs and ethnicities. “This process is going on for centuries. Shias, Sunnis, Sufis, Hindus, Sikhs and others are living together,” he said on Thursday. Rouhani said the West had sown the seeds of division in the Islamic world to divert attention from serious issues.
“Coming together and making hard efforts to gain the latest scientific knowledge are the only ways available for Muslims to get out of the current plight,” Iran’s Fars News Agency quoted him as saying in Persian.
He also said the colonial powers of the West had always adopted an “unfair” approach toward Muslim countries. “To provide raw materials for their larger industrial hubs, the West’s colonial powers turned to Islamic states in Asia and Africa and adopted an unfair approach toward them by exploiting their rich natural resources,” he said.
He said that establishing brotherly relations with all Islamic states is among the main priorities of Iran. “We don’t want to have a distance with any brotherly nation in the region. We maintain that the Muslim world’s problems cannot be resolved through military means.”
Rouhani noted that enemies of Islam are seeking to portray a violent image of the religion. “This comes as Islam is a religion of peace and brotherhood. To protect Islam against the enemies plot, we need to understand it correctly,” he said.
Rouhani arrived in Telangana capital on Thursday, starting a three-day visit aimed at discussing key economic and strategic issues with Indian leaders. Addressing the Friday prayers at the more than 400-year-old Mecca Masjid near the historic Charminar, Rouhani conveyed the Iranian people’s greetings to all Indians and said Iran sought more cordial and closer ties with India in all areas of mutual interest.