US ambassador castigates “unacceptable rhetoric” against Muslims

New Delhi:

Delivering a lecture at the Jamia Millia Islamia, the US Ambassador to India Richard Verma reached out to Muslims, denouncing “unacceptable rhetoric” against the community, particularly during the ongoing Presidential campaign in US, and in pockets of “intolerance”.

Verma said that any form of discrimination was “unjustifiable” and stressed on the need to embrace diversity, which he said was the real promise in the shared values of India and the United States.

Verma said Indo-US relation was at the central level, crediting the leaderships at New Delhi and Washington for the upswing in ties, which he said will continue “well into the future”.

“Strains to the international order, compounded by globalization and economic inequality, are also bringing to the fore voices who seek to exploit our fears and build barriers to cooperation.

“We see this in many parts of the world, with growing pockets of intolerance and anti-immigrant sentiment. This has included instances of unacceptable rhetoric against Muslims, including in the United States, and particularly during this Presidential campaign season,” Verma said.

Responding to a question on the anti-Islam sentiments in US, Verma said no explanation can justify discrimination against any individual, while underlining that a broad swathe of the population was not discriminatory.

He called for the coming together of “like-minded partners” to overcome challenges like terrorism and asymmetrical warfare, cyber threats, environmental degradation and climate change in the 21st century.

Describing India and US as “melting pots” that celebrate diversity, respect minority rights, freedom of religion, protect free speech, the Indian-origin diplomat said Maulana Azad’s message of diversity and knowledge holds more importance than ever.

Lauding Jamia over its achievements, Verma said that over the past twenty years, more than 50 students and faculty associated with the Central University have participated in US-sponsored educational and professional exchange programmes.

Last year, he said, the number of Indian students studying in the United States reached 1,32,000, “the highest number ever”, and expressed hope that it would grow even higher.

Pitching for more educational linkages, Verma said many US academic institutions are keenly interested in the Indian market, which he said will get a boost if the draft National Education Policy is approved.

“We are also looking forward to India’s approval of a bilateral MoU between our two countries to enhance our government-to-government dialogue on higher education,” he said.

Drawing out the similarities between the U.S. and India he said, “Both our countries are melting pots where we celebrate and embrace diversity; respect minority rights and freedom of religion; guarantee equal protection under the law; and protect the freedom of speech and assembly.  The real promise and potential in this relationship is not any one government program, student exchange or transaction – it is in our shared values.”

With inputs from Press Trust of India