(Photo: A Hindu priest walks past a mosque during Friday prayers in Ayodhya, October 1, 2010/Mukesh Gupta)
Indian Muslim clerics and leaders rallied on Friday against a court ruling over the disputed Ayodhya site that largely favoured Hindus, raising fears of further alienation of the minority community. The decision has been met with calm throughout India, despite fears the ruling could spark religious riots.
A court in Uttar Pradesh said in a judgment on Thursday that the site of a demolished mosque should be split between Hindus and Muslims. The court ruled Hindus would get two-thirds of the land and be allowed to keep a makeshift temple that was built over the razed mosque’s central dome.
In Delhi’s Jama Mosque, one of India’s largest, the chief cleric rejected the verdict. “If we do not get our rights we will never be able to walk in this country with our heads held high,” said Shahi Imam Bukhari to shouts of “Allahu Akhbar”, or “god is greatest” by thousands of Muslims after Friday prayers. “It is our responsibility to maintain the peace, but we will not be broken, we cannot be broken. If the Supreme Court endorses the High Court’s decision, I will urge all Muslims to consider the matter with all seriousness and concern.”
But there were no reports of protests in Muslim-dominated areas, partly because people remained wary of inflaming public tensions in a country where Muslims account for only 13 percent of the 1.2 billion plus population. Muslim groups said reaction was also measured because they still hoped to appeal in Supreme Court and rebuild the mosque.
(Photo: Muslims leave after Friday prayers at a mosque in Lucknow October 1, 2010/Adnan Abidi)