World

In crowded Mumbai, ordinary Muslims recoil at acts of fanatics

In a Mumbai market street where the Muslim call to prayer is heard above the din of traffic, Muslim residents are quick to distance themselves from the gunmen who attacked their city.

Dead gunmen should be denied religious burial, some Muslim residents say

In a Mumbai market street where the Muslim call to prayer is heard above the din of traffic, Muslim residents are quick to distance themselves from the gunmen who attacked their city last week, the CBC's Tom Parry reports.

Most people who live and work in the crowded district near central Mumbai are Muslim, but Hindu temples are interspersed among the old mosques, making it an area where India's two main religious groups live side by side. The gunmen, whose rampage left at least 172 dead, are thought to have been young Muslims from Pakistan.

The Indian government says the nine attackers killed by police may be buried in a secret location to keep their graves from becoming shrines for those who see them as martyrs. Among Muslims in the neighbourhood, that view has some support, Parry finds.

Reshma Advani, dressed in a head-to-toe black robe,  agrees the men don't deserve a place in the city's graveyards.

"It's correct," she says in Hindi. "We don't want them in our cemetery.  They've caused so much damage. They've put Mumbai behind. We don't want terrorists here."

For others, it is somewhat more complicated.

To Mohamed Farouz, the murder and mayhem carried out by gunmen is not in keeping with Islam. "They're not Muslims who carry on such attacks against innocent people. They are not Muslims."

But while he denies the men are Muslim, he says it is up to God to decide. To be on the safe side, give them a proper burial, he says. "By faith, if they are Muslims, they should be given the rites as a human right."

Of India's 1.1 billion people, about 80 per cent are Hindu and 14 per cent Muslim. There is a long history of bloodshed between the two groups, and Muslims are vulnerable to Hindu rage.

Muslim leaders are so determined to show their disapproval of the attacks they've said the gunmen killed should not be buried in any of Mumbai's Muslim cemeteries.

Hamid Abdul Razzak, head of Dawat e Islami, a Mumbai Muslim group, asks how killers who stained the reputation of Islam can be considered Muslims.

In any case, the Indian government isn't ready to turn the other cheek or love its enemies.

The attackers' bodies remain unclaimed in a Mumbai morgue. The government may offer them to Pakistan. If Pakistan won't take them, they will probably be taken away and quietly buried where no one can find them.

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