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In Outreach to Muslims, RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat Meets Top Cleric at Mosque in Delhi

© AP Photo / Anupam NathHindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), or the National Volunteers Force chief Mohan Bhagwat addresses a mega public rally in Gauhati, India, Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018
Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), or the National Volunteers Force chief Mohan Bhagwat addresses a mega public rally in Gauhati, India, Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018 - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.09.2022
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The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a nationalist Hindu organization, is the ideological mentor of India's federally governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat met Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, the chief cleric of the All India Imam Organization, an umbrella organization of Muslim clerics in the country, at a mosque in Delhi on Thursday, NDTV reported.
"It sends out a very good message to the country. We had discussions like a family. It was wonderful that they came on our invitation," Suhaib Ilyasi, the cleric's son, told the the news channel after the meeting.

Bhagwat's interactions with Muslim leaders have become more frequent in recent days. Apparently, the RSS chief is doing this to change public perception of his volunteer organization as anti-Muslim at large.

Last month, he had a meeting with five intellectuals from the Muslim community: former chief of India's poll body S.Y. Quraishi, ex-Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Najeeb Jung, former parliamentarian Shahid Siddiqui, former head of the Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh Lieutenant General Zameer Uddin Shah and philanthropist Saeed Shervani.

Speaking about Bhagwat's meeting with Ilyasi, RSS spokesperson Sunil Ambedkar told the news agency ANI that it was part of the organization's outreach program.
"RSS Sarsanghachalak (chief) meets people from all walks of life. It's part of a continuous general 'Samvad (discussion)' process," Ambekar said.
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The RSS head's outreach to Muslims comes amid a spate of Hindu-Muslim violence in some parts of the country earlier this year.
In June, violent protests broke out across the country after a BJP spokesperson made controversial remarks during a heated televised debate. The party removed her from her post and she later apologized.
The previous month, the members of two communities were involved in violent clashes during the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr in Jodhpur city in Rajasthan.
In April, communal clashes broke out in the states of Gujarat, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh on the occasion of the Hindu festivals of Ram Navmi, and Hanuman Jayanti, marked to celebrate the birth of Lord Rama and Hanumana, respectively.
Muslims are the largest minority community in India, comprising just over 14 percent of the country's population.
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