‘Gandhi's ideas influenced release of Lockerbie bomber’
London: The recent release of the alleged Lockerbie bomber was in line with Mahatma Gandhi's principles of compassion and non-violence, Scotland First Minister Alex Salmond has said.
Speaking during a conference of his Scottish National Party, in Inverness, Salmond said that the Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill was right in deciding to release Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds in August.
Salmond recalled the recent visit of Mahatma Gandhi's grandson, Arun Gandhi to Scotland and said, "One of the things he told me is that his grandfather's philosophy is much misunderstood. His resistance was not passive, but active. His dedication to non-violence a strength, not a weakness".
Salmond continued in the Gandhian mode, "Sometimes, someone has to break the cycle of retribution with an act of compassion - that is what Kenny MacAskill did and we should be proud of him for doing it."
Earlier, Salmond said he will consider a proposal to set up a Scottish centre for non-violence, peace and reconciliation after a meeting with Arun Gandhi.
Gandhi, 74, was in Scotland to deliver lectures at the universities of Edinburgh, Dundee and Queen Margaret. He addressed a conference at Napier University on the Gandhian
approach to ethical leadership.
After meeting Salmond, Gandhi said, "I hope that there will be a greater, deeper association with Scotland through the work of non-violence."
A Scottish Government spokesman said, "We are happy to examine any proposal that comes forward."
Salmond said, "Gandhi's lifetime's dedication to the causes which he believes in is a superb example to us all and I am honoured that he has been able to visit Scotland."
Gandhi also visited Dunde university where he delivered this year's Margaret Harris Lecture on Religion, entitled 21st Century Peace-Making: The Gandhi Way.
Stating that society had built a culture of violence to exploit people for individual and national gain, he said peace was not just the absence of war, but a collective will for all cultures, religions and nationalities to live in harmony.
He said, "Peace in the Gandhian sense means building friendships, relationships that are based on respect, understanding, compassion and love, which is much more lasting than weapons of mass destruction."
Gandhi also opened a new exhibition in the university's Dalhousie Building called India in Close Up, which features a collection of rarely seen photographs depicting everyday life in India during the 1960s.
It also includes private portraits of two of India's most charismatic prime ministers, Indira Gandhi and her father, Jawaharlal Nehru.
University chaplain, the Reverend Fiona Douglas said, "There has been a lot of anticipation about Arun Gandhi coming to the university. The name Gandhi resonates like no other."