Minneapolis: “Islam means peace”, Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi has said as he decried the backlash against Muslims and made a strong call to nations to welcome refugees, particularly children, and not generalise them based on the actions of a few who have “tarnished” the image of Islam.
“Islam means peace. There are hundreds of (references) in the Holy Quran where peace, justice, freedom and equality are taught,” Satyarthi said at the opening of the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Forum held under the auspices of the Norwegian Nobel Institute here yesterday.
Satyarthi, who shared the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize with Pakistani girls rights activist Malala Yousafzai, was asked by a young boy from Cyprus during a live global Q&A about the backlash against Muslims and rhetoric used against them by some politicians as well as the subsequent resentment against refugees amid fears that terrorists could hide among the millions fleeing conflict in countries like Syria and Iraq and seeking asylum in the western world.
Satyarthi, 62, accompanied at the forum by his wife Sumedha, said it was unfortunate that a “handful of people” were “manipulating” Islam and bringing a “bad name” to the religion for their selfish “political” ends and sometimes “emotional” reasons when Muslims across the world have been ambassadors of humanity and peace and people from Muslim countries have shown courage to speak out the truth.
“A handful of people are manipulating the religion…and even creating deep fundamentalism, brainwashing young people. We all know how ISIS and all these terror groups are functioning under the garb and name of Islam,” he said.
“We oppose that kind of tendency and practice that is manipulating Islam,” he added.
With children being the worst sufferers in the unprecedented refugee crisis engulfing the world, the Nobel laureate stressed that “no child wants to be a refugee” and no child has ever been responsible for war, insurgency or conflict.
“But children are the worst victims. They are forced to be refugees. We should not victimise them further,” he said making a strong call to nations and its citizens to welcome refugees and not generalise them based on the actions of a few who have “tarnished” the image of Islam.
“I categorically say that every single door, every single border, every single treasury and every single heart should be open for refugee children because all children are our children, irrespective of religion, faith and countries,” he said to a round of applause from the audience.
When asked by a 15-year old girl in the audience what he would do if he were the Prime Minister of India, Satyarthi said with a laugh that he “never thought about it” and would not take oath as Prime Minister “because I strongly feel that the power of ordinary people and the moral power of an ordinary person is million times more than any prime minister or any politician in the world.” PTI