Indian Muslims under pressure in Mumbai aftermath

Wed Dec 31, 2008 7:14pm EST
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By Bappa Majumdar and Krittivas Mukherjee

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - In a government morgue in Mumbai lie the bodies of nine Islamist militants responsible for killing 179 people in a bloody attack on India's financial hub.

The deadly rampage happened in November, but India's Muslims have refused to bury the gunmen, distancing themselves from the killings in a country where Hindu nationalists often whip up anti-Muslim sentiment after such attacks.

"We strongly believe terrorists have no religion and they do not deserve a burial," said Maulana Zaheer Abbas Rizvi of the All India Shia Personal Law Board, a body for framing Muslim laws.

Leaders of India's 140-million-strong Muslim community have denounced the November 26-29 Mumbai attacks and thousands of Muslims have marched in protests against the bloodshed. It has been the strongest rejection yet of Islamist violence by Indian Muslims.

"We have lost our children in the Mumbai attacks too. And we, as Indians, share a common grief and demand justice," said Maulana Mehmood Daryabadi, general-secretary of the All-India Ulema Council, one of the biggest groupings of Muslim sects.

In Muslim neighborhoods in the capital, residents observed low-key celebrations during an Islamic holiday in December.

Imran Ahmed, a book-seller, did not buy any new clothes for his children during the festival and did not distribute kebabs to neighbors as he does each year.

"So many people were killed by the terrorists. How could I celebrate?" asked the bearded book-seller, sitting outside his shop in the narrow, congested streets of Old Delhi.   Continued...

<p>A Muslim man prays inside the Mecca Masjid complex in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad in this December 23, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder</p>