India will succeed as long it is not “splintered” on religious lines: Obama

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New Delhi: Making a strong pitch for religious tolerance, US President Barack Obama today said every person has the right to practice his faith without any persecution and that India will succeed so long it is not “splintered” on religious lines.

Addressing a Town hall event at the Siri Fort auditorium on the third and final day of his visit to India, Obama also said that America can be India’s “best partner”.

“Every person has the right to practice his faith without any persecution, fear or discrimination. India will succeed so long it is not splintered on religious lines,” Obama told the audience comprising mainly young people during the course of his 30-minute speech.

The President’s comments came against the backdrop of the controversy over religious conversions and ‘Ghar Wapsi” programmes by right wing Hindu outfits in India.

Obama also cited Article 25 of the Indian Constitution dealing with the Right to Freedom of religion.

“Your (Constitution) Article 25 says all people are equally entitled to the freedom of conscience and have right to freely profess and practise and propagate religion. In both our countries, in all countries upholding with freedom of religion is the utmost responsibility of the government but also the responsibility of every person,” he said.

Obama also said that around the world we have seen intolerance, violence and terror perpetrated by those who profess to be standing for upholding their faith.

“We have to guard against any efforts to divide us on sectarian lines or any other thing,” he said.

Obama further said that no society is immune by the darkest impulses of man and that more often religion has been used to tap into it.

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