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India Needs to Cherish and Nurture Its Muslims, Says Barack Obama at HT Leadership Summit

Former US President Barack Obama on Friday delivered a special address at the HT Leadership Summit partnered by CNN-News18.

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Updated:December 1, 2017, 2:03 PM IST
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India Needs to Cherish and Nurture Its Muslims, Says Barack Obama at HT Leadership Summit
Former US President Barack Obama speaks at HT Leadership Summit partnered by CNN-News18.

New Delhi: Former US President Barack Obama on Friday delivered a special address at the HT Leadership Summit partnered by CNN-News18 and said India needs to cherish and nurture its Muslim population that is integrated and considers itself Indian.

Obama said he had emphasised the need for religious tolerance and the right to practise one's own faith during closed-door talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his last trip to India in 2015.

The 44th US president, who held office between 2009 and 2017, had made similar comments during a public interaction on the last day of his visit, which had come against the backdrop of controversy over religious conversions.

"There's a counter narrative taking place, at all times, but it's particularly pronounced now... in Europe, US and sometimes in India where those old tribal impulses reassert themselves under leaders who try to push back and under leaders who try to exploit them," Obama said.

Responding to an India-specific question, Obama referred to India's "enormous Muslim population", which is successful, integrated and thinks of itself as Indian. That is unfortunately not always the case in some other countries, Obama added.

"And that is something that needs to be cherished and nurtured, cultivated. It's important to continue reinforcing it."

Answering a question on terrorism emanating from Pakistan, Obama said, "We had no evidence that Pakistan was aware of Osama bin Laden's presence there but that is something obviously we looked at."

This was Obama's first visit to India since handing over presidency to Donald Trump. He had visited the country twice during his tenure at the White House — once during Manmohan Singh's term and the second time when Narendra Modi invited him as the Chief Guest of the Republic Day parade in 2015.

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| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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