Kerala

'Narcotic jihad' controversy | Religious leaders meet to ‘heal wounds’

Religious leaders take part in a meeting in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday.   | Photo Credit: S. MAHINSHA S

In a bid to put a lid on the ‘narcotic jihad’ controversy, religious leaders came together here on Monday to ‘heal wounds’ that have threatened to affect secular unity in the State.

The outreach initiated by Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Catholicos, Major Archbishop-Catholicos of Malankara Syrian Catholic Church, witnessed a congregation of leaders representing various sects and denominations who sought to restore communal harmony amid growing resentment at Pala bishop Mar Joseph Kallarangatt’s ‘love jihad and narcotic jihad’ remarks.

The participants included Muslim Youth League State president Panakkad Syed Munavvar Ali Shihab Thangal; Kozhikode Palayam Imam Hussain Madavoor; Thiruvananthapuram Palayam Imam V.P. Suhaib Moulavi; Kerala Muslim Jamaath president Karamana Bayar; Thiruvananthapuram Archbishop (Latin rite) M. Soosa Pakiam; and Santhigiri Ashram general secretary Swami Gururetnam Jnana Thapaswi.

Notable absentees

However, Syro-Malabar Archbishop Mar Joseph Perumthottam and representatives of Samastha Kerala Jamiyyathul Ulema and Kerala Muslim Jamaath were conspicuous by their absence despite figuring on the invitees’ list circulated by the organisers.

Addressing mediapersons after the discussions that lasted two hours, Cardinal Cleemis said the Pala bishop’s statement was not the prime agenda of the meeting, though it was organised in that context. The discussions primarily focused on strengthening communal harmony, he said.

While advocating the need for similar inter-religious fora at the local level, the Catholicos also called for restraint, especially on the part of the religious and spiritual leaders, from ‘wounding’ other communities. On a personal level, he felt “narcotics must be viewed as narcotics alone” without elaborating further on the bishop’s remarks.

Referring to the absentees, he said the meeting had only commenced a dialogue that would have to be taken forward with greater participation. Swami Gururethnam said some people had questioned the need for organising a conciliatory meeting. Such opposition was not expected to be long-standing, he said.

‘Tackling divisive efforts’

Claiming that the Pala bishop’s statements were neither condemned nor justified at the meeting, Mr. Munavvar Ali said a strong need was felt to address divisive efforts being made at the grassroots level and on the social media to disrupt social harmony.

Bishop Joseph Mar Barnabas of Mar Thoma Church, Bishop Gabriel Mar Gregorios of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, Bishop Mathews Mor Anthimos of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church, Swami Sookshmananda of Sivagiri Madham, Swami Aswathi Thirunal of Ekalavyasram, Al Ameen Beemapally of Kerala Naduvathul Mujahideen, and Islamic scholar Ashraf Kadakkal also participated in the talks.


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Printable version | Oct 24, 2021 8:50:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/religious-leaders-meet-to-heal-wounds/article36573402.ece

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