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Indian Muslims are not terrorists: Farah Pandith

Washington, July 10, 2010:

India's 160 million Muslims are not terrorists and are tired of their community being defined as terrorists, asserts a top Indian-American official of the Obama Administration charged with reaching out to the community.

"I talk about the bloggers that I meet in India who are tired of Muslims being defined as terrorists," Farah Pandith, US Special Representative to the Muslim Community, said in a web chat Friday.

"They're getting out there and talking about what's happening in India, with 160 million Muslims in India - all of whom, by the way, are not terrorists, excuse me," asserted the Indian-American State Department official.

Articulating US attempts at fostering a positive dialogue with the world's 1.4 billion Muslims, Pandith made clear that she tries not to speak of a single monolithic "Muslim world".

"The narrative has to change by the conversations that we are having, and not to put everything in one big bucket, just because, obviously, somebody maybe of one faith that does something bad does not mean that everybody of that faith is in that same bucket," she said in response to a question.

"We have to listen. We have to hear what it is they are experiencing. Their expertise is better than somebody in Washington saying what must be," said the official who has travelled to 25 countries in the last nine months talking to Muslims.

Muslims are trying very hard to push away any kind of narrative that would give that impression, Pandith said. "We as Muslims do not support the use of violence in any way, shape or form.

"It's talking about diversity, and it's talking about things that this country stands for. When we talk about the West, Muslims are part of the West. There are 30 million Muslims in Western Europe. There are millions of Muslims in America," she said.

"It's not us versus them," said Pandith. "It's not the West versus the East. It's not America versus Islam. The president has talked very clearly about the fact that Islam is part of America."




Farah Pandith