Scarves spell trouble for Delhi police | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Scarves spell trouble for Delhi police

delhi Updated: Sep 23, 2008 01:14 IST
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Friends, Although this is no time for fun, but you may have seen these images (attached) in today’s The Hindu and Hindustan Times, which shows three Muslim boys arrested in Delhi as “terrorists” wearing the Arab headgear (usually called Palestinian rumal). I guess the 3 terrorists were roaming around wearing these identical scarves for easy identification. The scarves are new and clean, carefully wrapped around for the photo session. Way to go Delhi Police. Your circus is running well.
— an e-mail circulated on the Net

At a time when a clamour about stereotyping is growing among Muslims, the Delhi police may rue their decision to parade three young men — alleged to be members of the Indian Mujahideen — in a tassled cloth in red-and-white checks to cover their faces.

Members of the Islamic community said they objected to the police use of a signature Muslim scarf as a mask for criminals paraded before the media.

The muffler-like head drape, which goes by no one name, is part of a distinctly Muslim attire called the abaaya, widely worn by Muslims, especially clerics.

“Because the police are using it to mask terrorists while parading them before the media, the abaaya has become a metaphor for terror,” said Qasim Rasool Illyasi, member of the All-India Personal Law Board. “It hurts our religious sentiments.”

Rahmat Qasimi, a cleric who teaches in south Delhi’s Madrasa Qasimiya, said the abaaya had a “religious significance” for clerics and to use it on criminals was “offending”.

Qasimi said, however, that wearing the abaaya was more of a cultural practice than a religious requirement.

Reluctant to discuss what is now a tricky issue, the police said the cloth had been purchased in bulk “long ago”. Use of the cloth started when they arrested three associates of the Om Prakash, or Bunty, the alleged kingpin of a gang of criminal bikers. He was shot dead in a police “encounter”.