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Karzai blames West for fanning religoious extremism to fights Soviets

Posted on Nov 13, 10:03AM | UNI

Admitting that challenges from the extremist forces were not going to end in near future, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai today expressed the commitment of his government to defend his country against the assault.

He also attacked the West for what he called propelling the forces of extremism by misusing religion against the previous Soviet Communist regime, and saw a role for Sufism in preventing radicalisation of the society.

"These forces will continue to perpetuate atrocities and we will continue to defend our country," Dr Karzai said answering a question from the audience after delivering the 'Maulana Abul, Kalam Azad Memorial Lecture' titled 'A Maulana for Our Times' organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations on the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library here this evening.

Dr Karzai said the kind of Islam as propagated by Maulana Azad was the true religion, and not the one spelt out and practised by extremists, adding that the Maulana saw in God and religion a message of unity of mankind and not division, while the extremists' were using religion to cause death and destruction.

"Who represents Islam better. Maulana or all these extremsits?" he said after narrating episodes from the life of the great Indian revolutionary freedom fighter and Islamic scholar, referring to his vision as spelt out in his voluminous works, including his commentary on Quran, his books like 'Ghubar-e-Khatir', 'Tazkira' etc.

He said Maulana Azad's message cut across civilisational boundaries, while "we today were held up by the Western concept of nation states." Replying to suggestion from the audience for revision of school curriculum to fight the extremists ideologies, the Afghanistan President said "the problem was not with what was being taught to children in school in his country, but in the politics of the day." Dr Karzai elaborated, saying that religious sentiments of the people were exploited by the West to create an opposition to the Communist regime of the erstwhile Soviet Union, and subsequently religion was used by others too to serve their ends.

Answering a related question on dessimination of Sufism to counter extremism, Dr Karzai said the kind of religious ideology propagated by Sufi saints had always been a force in Afghanistan, and that was the reason radicals were always targeting Sufi shrines.

The Lecture that had been organised as part of the National Education Day which is observed on Maulana Azad's birth anniversary, was also attended by Minister for External Affairs Salman Khurshid, and a number of diplomats and scholars.