Dalai Lama slams killings in name of religion

His Holiness Dalai Lama speaks during an inter-religious meeting for harmony in New Delhi on September 20, 2014 (AFP Photo/Chandan Khanna) (AFP)

New Delhi (AFP) - The Dalai Lama on Saturday condemned mindless violence in the name of religion, saying the concept of jihad was being misused and misinterpreted by Islamist extremists.

The Nobel Peace prize winner was referring to bloodshed unleashed by the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq where it has overrun swathes of territory.

"Killing in the name of faith is unacceptable," he told a meeting of India's religious leaders representing as many as nine different faiths including Islam.

Jihad or holy war should be a fight "to combat our inner destructive emotions", the 79-year-old spiritual leader said. "It (jihad) does not mean harming other people."

The hard-hitting statements by the Dalai Lama come after the Islamic State group released a video earlier this month showing the beheading of a second US hostage, journalist Steven Sotloff.

Earlier this week, British photojournalist John Cantlie appeared in a propaganda video released by the militants.

"If we remain indifferent to what is happening around us, it is wrong," the Dalai Lama said.

"The spiritual people can show the world that it can be a happy family (despite) the different faiths."

A senior Muslim cleric, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Bombay and the head of the Jewish community in Delhi were among those who attended the two-day conference.

The Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, lives in the northern Indian hill station of Dharamsala.

The inter-faith meeting was initially slated to be a three-day affair. But it was cut short to "accommodate" a request from the Indian authorities due to a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to the country which ended Friday.

"Our meeting was to start on Friday but the Dalai Lama doesn't want to cause any inconvenience to the hosts" so he acceded to their request, Tempa Tsering, who is representative of the Dalai Lama in New Delhi, told AFP.

The Dalai Lama says he supports "meaningful autonomy" for Tibet within China rather than outright independence.

But China accuses him of covertly campaigning for Tibet's independence and brands him a "splittist".