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Dalai Lama condemns Islamophobia, says no such thing as ‘Muslim terrorist'

DAILY SABAH WITH AGENCIES
ISTANBUL
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Dalai Lama condemns Islamophobia, says no such thing as ‘Muslim terrorist'

Amid increasing xenophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment across Europe and the United States prompted by the refugee crisis, spiritual leader the Dalai Lama said that there is no such thing as a "Muslim terrorist," as anyone who takes part in violent activities is not a "genuine" Muslim. Speaking at the European Parliament in Strasbourg in France last Thursday, the exiled leader said that since all religions preach peace, calling someone a Muslim terrorist is an oxymoron.

"Buddhist terrorist. Muslim terrorist. That wording is wrong," he said. "Any person who wants to indulge in violence is no longer a genuine Buddhist or genuine Muslim, because it is a Muslim teaching that once you are involved in bloodshed, actually you are no longer a genuine practitioner of Islam," he added, stressing that in order to improve integration, Islam and fundamentalism should be differentiated.

The Dalai Lama's statements came amid increasing anti-Muslim attitudes in Western countries. In the wake of a conservative lawmaker's call to bar entry to followers of Islam, almost half of Australians support a ban on immigration for Muslims, a poll released Wednesday showed, revealing frustrations with their country's migration policy.

Forty-nine percent of people surveyed in an Essential poll said they agreed that Muslims should be banned from the country, while 40 percent disagreed with the idea. Of those who supported the ban, 41 percent said they felt Muslims did not integrate into Australian society, while 27 percent cited "terrorist threat" and 22 percent said Muslims "did not share our values."

Last week, Australian far-right parliamentarian, Pauline Hanson of the One Nation party, created a ruckus after calling for a blanket ban on Muslims in her speech to the Senate. She said Australia was in danger of being swamped by Muslims who had "a culture and ideology incompatible with our own."

Muslims make up just 2.2 percent of Australia's population according to the 2011 census and their numbers are growing slower than other religions, for example Hindus.

Apart from Australia, rising xenophobia has emerged as a key concern in Germany, as anger over the arrival of around a million asylum seekers in Germany in 2015 is running high in many eastern states such as Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

Growing xenophobia and right-wing extremism could threaten peace in eastern Germany, the government warned Wednesday, voicing fears over the impact of a series of attacks against refugees in the region.

"Right-wing extremism in all forms poses a very serious threat to the societal and economic development" of eastern Germany, said Iris Gleicke, who is the government's point person for national unity.

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