Maumoon Abdul Gayoom says India remains Maldives’ most important strategic ally

NEW DELHI (TIP): Amid the current thaw in bilateral ties, former Maldivian president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom on Tuesday said India remains the “most important strategic” partner of Maldives.

“India was and remains the most strategically important partner of Maldives, whether it is our ties in education and army and navy training and the recent goodwill visit of ships to our country only prove that. And, we wish to continue our ties,” he said.

Indian aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya along with its support ships INS Mysore and INS Deepak recently were on a four-day visit to Maldives.

The former Maldivian president said this in response to a question after delivering an address on “Islam: A Religion of Peace” at the Observer Research Foundation here.

Gayoom also condemned acts of terrorism perpetrated globally in the name of Islam and said militant outfits like Islamic State (ISIS) are “not fighting a holy war” or upholding the rights of Muslims with their mindless violence born out of religious ignorance.

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“The nature of acts committed by ISIS only stem out of ignorance about Islam. Anyone who understands the basic tenets of this religion knows that it forbids violence and killing of any kind unless prescribed by law for crimes like murder …

“ISIS by its terror activities is neither fighting a holy war or upholding the rights of the Muslim community. Thousands of people are being killed in terror attacks and I condemn all such violence and wars waged in the name of religion,” Gayoom said.

“But, let me add here that those committing acts of violence in the name of Islam are barely one per cent of the global Muslim population, which is largely peaceful and therefore fear and suspicion about Muslims generated among people in many parts of the world after events like September 11 attack also show lack of understanding of Islam on their part. So, the image of Islam gets tarnished both ways,” he said.

The Maldivian leader further said, a Muslim is not someone who says so but he becomes a Muslim by his act, or for that matter a Hindu or a Christian.

“And that act as the Holy Quran says is of kindness and compassion and tolerance … The tenets in our holy books say that killing one man equals killing whole of mankind,” he said.

“But acts of terrorism have been committed by non-Muslims groups too like the Ku Klux Klan, the IRA, Red Army and the LTTE. So, people must understand that Islam or for that matter any religion teaches peace and harmony and a few people use it for waging a war,” he said.

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