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India’s Muslims - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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India’s one hundred and fifty million Muslims now face the consequences of the bloody rampage that was undertook by terrorists last week in Mumbai costing the lives of 174 people. Has it become the fate of Muslims all over the world that extremists of their kind ruin their lives?

The Muslim minority in India makes up roughly 13 per cent of the total population, making it the third largest Muslim population worldwide after Indonesia and Pakistan respectively. This makes the Mumbai siege more than just a terrorist incident. The question is do these terrorists want to incite a religious war between the Muslims and the rest of the Indian population just as they did between the Sunnis and Shia in Iraq and tried to do in Britain? This was apparent from their statements calling for confronting adherents of other religions.

On the international level the Mumbai siege is a great crime and tragedy, but it comes as no surprise as extremists have expressed their opposition to India, using it as a red flag for incitement, recruitment, and the financing [of terrorism].

The internal war on terrorism led by former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf disturbed the terrorist organizations’ financial accounts. Even after Musharraf left office, the internal war against terrorist organizations continued by the new Pakistani leadership. Musharraf’s successor, President Asif Ali Zardari, lost his wife Benazir Bhutto in the battle against terrorism and this will remain an important milestone in the history of modern Pakistan.

Not a month goes by without news of dozens of unarmed civilians being killed in terrorist operations carried out against unarmed citizens in Pakistan. Those who blindly accuse Muslims do not understand the conflict that is currently raging all over the world between extremists and the majority of Muslims who hate them and everything they stand for.

After the wounds of Mumbai heal, we may witness racism towards the Muslims in India, who, until now, have lived in a generally tolerant society, but of course, not without violent acts committed by extremists of all communities. In general, the Muslim minority of India live in a better political environment than in countries with Muslim majorities in terms of political rights and economic status.

This is where the role of foreign Muslims comes in; they should contribute to contain this crisis by helping to obstruct extremists. A number of Arab countries presented information to the Indian authorities last year and this year, which led to the arrest of militant groups inside India. It would be unusual if the Mumbai terrorists included Indian Muslim militants and it would demonstrate the success of terrorist organizations in recruiting local residents instead of bringing in fighters from abroad as was the case previously. All sources warn that India is beginning to suffer what Pakistan, Britain, and Morocco have suffered: the cultivation of local terrorist groups receiving orders from abroad. This will double the problems of the Muslim community in India.

India is built upon the harmonious balance of a tremendous population, and was based upon the ideals of a great man, namely Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi was assassinated by a member of his own religion, a Hindu extremist, because of his calls for peaceful coexistence. Gandhi was killed, but India lived on following his unique example of peace. He was the object of international respect. Muslims have played a significant, positive role in India despite the ongoing border disputes between Pakistan and India.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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