Friday, October 1, 2010

Hindus, Muslims must share

Hindu and Muslim school children offer prayers for peace inside their school in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

LUCKNOW (India) - FOR 150 years, Hindus and Muslims both claimed a site that is sacred to their religions, which triggered some of the worst rioting in India's history. On Thursday, a court came up with a compromise: Split it.

Both sides said they would appeal, and the muted reaction to the potentially explosive verdict generated hopes that the increasingly confident country, with its growing regional clout and skyrocketing economy, has moved beyond its divisive history.

'(This) shows that we have become a mature nation,' said Kamal Farooqui, a member of the Muslim Personal Law Board.

In advance of the ruling, the government sent hundreds of thousands of police into the streets, arrested more than 10,000 people to keep them from inciting violence, and pushed another 100,000 to sign affidavits saying they would not cause trouble.

The dispute over the religious site in the city of Ayodhya, 550 kilometres east of New Delhi, has been one of the country's most contentious issues.

Hindus argued that the Babri Mosque erected there by Muslims in 1528 stood on the site of the birthplace of the Hindu god Rama, and they filed suit in 1950. -- AP

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