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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Backlash is feared in India over terror plot

The foiled terrorist attacks in Britain last month have prompted anxiety and soul searching in India, a country whose economy relies heavily on its citizens' ability to work overseas.

Some of those arrested in connection with the thwarted bombings in London and Glasgow are Muslims from India. It is the first time since 1985, when a bomb downed Air India Flight 182 near the coast of Ireland, that Indian citizens have been implicated in a major international terrorist incident.

The revelations have prompted fears that Indian professionals, Muslim or otherwise, will face increasing difficulty finding employment overseas.

Concerns that relatives already working abroad will face a backlash have also been heightened.

Some Indians remember that the first hate crime victim in the United States in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks was Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh filling station owner in Arizona shot to death by a man who apparently saw Sodhi's turban as a symbol of terrorism and anti-American hatred.

A pledge by Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain last week to review policies for screening foreign doctors was met with a plea from the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, not to single out citizens of any country for scrutiny.

"A terrorist is a terrorist and has no religion or community," Singh said he told Brown. [Link]

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