Saturday, January 06, 2007

India Awakens to its Other Pariahs: Muslims

DELHI AND HYDERABAD, INDIA - By almost any measure, Salam Mohsin has set himself up well to succeed in India. He has completed his primary education, he speaks a little English, and he is now attending business college. Yet every time he has looked to a future beyond the rickshaws and repair shops of Hyderabad's Old City, he has seen only closed doors.

When Mr. Mohsin applied for his retired father's old government job, not only was he rejected, but his father's pension was cut. Banks have repeatedly denied him loans for his plan to buy and reopen a derelict factory.

This, he says, is the life of a Muslim in India, And perhaps for the first time, this Hindu nation is beginning to believe him. For the past 60 years, Indian Muslims have more often been the subjects of blame - for terrorism and the 1947 partition with Pakistan - than sympathy.

Yet in November, a government-appointed panel suggested that ignorance and prejudice have now made Muslims an underclass on par with the lowest Hindu castes. Now, politicians who have long avoided the subject are openly talking of helping Muslims - potentially even setting aside quotas for Muslim admission into schools and political institutions. . . .

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