Florence: People who stage acts of terrorism cannot claim to be religious, Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, said on Tuesday, underlining that members of different faiths can live in peace.
“Often we see the term terrorism used alongside the name of a faith, for example Muslim terrorist, Buddhist terrorist,” he said in an address to an annual religion festival in the Italian city of Florence.
“From the moment you kill, you are no longer religious – you are a terrorist,” the 82-year-old Dalai Lama stated.
“I know many Muslims in India and the main principle that guides Muslims is to love everything created by Allah. And from the moment you kill another person, you cease being a Muslim,” he said.
Members of the many religions based on different philosophies which exist in the world can live peace and harmony, the Dalai Lama said.
“We must coexist and nurture universal love, peace and forgiveness,” he said, underlining that the deadly conflicts in the world are humankind’s fault.
“It is a terrible thing that faiths are a source of conflict, and this happens because we lack understanding of others,” the Dalai Lama said.
“In my life I have seen so many things, so many conflicts. At this current moment, there are brothers and sisters, children who dying for reasons that are of our making. The time has come to end this suffering,” he said.
More than 6,000 people from all over Italy attended his talk at the festival, which is taking place in Florence from Tuesday to Saturday.
It was the first time the Dalai Lama has debated in public with speakers from the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths, who included Izzedin Elzir, Florence’s imam and president of Italy’ largest Muslim grouping (Ucoii).
Festival organisers awarded the Dalai Lama Florence’s prestigious ‘Seal of Peace’ prize. Previous recipients of the award included former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2000, ex-President of the Soviet Union Michail Gorbaciov and Pope Saint John Paul II in 2004.