Every citizen of India, true to the country's secular characteristic, should respect other religions for a peaceful co-existence, observed Asghar Ali Engineer, noted columnist and chairman of the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai.

Addressing a meeting convened by Tiruchi Arivalar Peravai here on Saturday, Mr. Engineer said that India was the only country in the world which was founded on the principles of secularism. “We have witnessed horrible communal riots – not because of Indian culture but because of political powers,” he said, adding that ancient rulers' damaging places of worship was just a sign of victory in some war or invasion. “But the multi–religious character of our country had withstood all these troubles.”

He said that every individual should respect and honour every other religion. “Religion ceases to be a religion if it makes you greedy,” he observed.

He appealed to political leaders not to cash-in on religion. The political parties should desist from dividing people on religion-based differences.

Communal harmony should be uppermost in every political party's ideology. Political leaders should pay more attention to solving people's problems and fulfil their needs.

Mr. Engineer, speaking at the interaction session, said that peace was the founding principle of every religion. In fact, the term Islam meant peace, he said.

Earlier, P.U.Ayoob, president of the Peravai, presided over and G.Renganathan secretary, read out a report on the activities of the Peravai since its inception.

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