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40 Muslims died in Mumbai

india Updated: Dec 02, 2008 00:34 IST
Tasneem Nashrulla

In the greatest irony of the Mumbai attacks, more than 40 Muslims, at the present count, died in acts of terror carried out in the name of their religion. At least 183 people died in the attacks last week.

One survivor was Hussain Rizvi, 20, a front desk executive at the Taj hotel who hid himself in a small second-floor pantry at 10 pm on Wednesday. He emerged dehydrated 42 hours later on Friday, narrowly escaping death at the hands of men who proclaimed they were fighting for the cause of Indian Muslims.

Hussain’s father, Maulana Zaheer Abbas Rizvi, general secretary of the All India Shia Personal Law Board, stood outside the Taj for hours, watching grenades and gunfire rip apart the hotel in which his son was captive. Though Hussain’s smses provided intermittent relief, the maulana could only pray helplessly. “There is no justification (for this),” said the maulana. “All of India should stand up to fight against terrorism. I don’t consider these terrorists Muslims.”

The sentiment is echoed by other Muslims in Mumbai, aghast that the attacks were committed in the name of jihad. Fashion designer-artist Nahid Merchant, 49, a Muslim who prays five times a day and attends weekly workshops that discuss Islam as a way of life, said, “These terrorists are the worst enemies of Muslims. I hang my head in shame when the terrorists compare their victory to that of the historic Battle of Badar, which was fought to save Islam.”

“They say they are taking revenge for what happened in Gujarat, but two wrongs can never make a right,”Merchant added.

Salim Shaikh, 21, a delivery boy who helped transport the injured and the dead to hospitals after a taxi-bomb exploded near his house in Wadi Bunder, said, “If they (terrorists) come in front of me, I will kill them.”

Mohammed Naeem, 30, a fruit seller in Bandra, equally angry, said, “Because of them, my business has gone down by more than half. Everyone is scared to come out. Both Hindus and Muslims are suffering because of their actions.”

Maulana Mehmood Daryabadi, general secretary, All India Ulema Council (Sunni), said Muslim clerics were condemning the terrorists through the media and through sermons in mosques across the city. “We doubt that these terrorists are Muslims, because jihad does not mean perpetrating violence,” he said.

A Muslim woman, who did not wish to be named, conducts workshops for followers to build faith and lead their lives as devoted Muslims. “In Islam, we greet each other by saying ‘Assalaamu' Alaykum’, which means ‘Peace be unto you’. These acts have nothing to do with our religion. They have been committed by human machine guns that are evil beyond imagination,” she said.