The arrests of two Indians in connection with the Al Qaeda- style bombing plots in London and Glasgow have sparked surprise and consternation here in their homeland, where Islamic radicalization is of relatively small but increasing concern.
News of the arrests was splashed on front pages across the country yesterday, and raised fears among India's millions of Muslims that they could fall under greater suspicion at home and abroad. Community leaders appealed to the public not to rush to judgment concerning Mohammed Haneef, a doctor who was arrested in Australia, and Sabeel Ahmed, a trainee physician who was detained in northern England, where he reportedly had worked with Haneef....
"The community is a bit shocked. You don't expect young doctors to be connected with such incidents," Mohammed Belgami, a urologist who is president of the local chapter of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, a national Muslim organization, said by telephone from Bangalore.
"Secondly, I'm a doctor and I do know most students here. And from what I know, they are very upright and very morally sound doctors," Belgami said of the two young men, both in their 20s. "Nothing is proven. It's as if they're already incriminated."....
India is home to more Muslims than any other country besides Indonesia and Pakistan. About 13 percent of Indians are Muslim, out of a population of 1.1 billion. The proportion in Bangalore is higher -- about 1 in 5, Belgami said....
"Muslims in India have a lot of problems. They don't have jobs, a good education," said Sayeed Khan, who runs the Muslim Youth of India organization. "At least 43 percent of Muslims live in slums. They don't have basic facilities."
His organization is trying to keep young Muslims from becoming radicalized, which he acknowledges "is happening, but on a very small scale."
With the arrests of Haneef and Ahmed, Khan expressed concern that India's Muslims could face more harassment.
"This creates a stigma for all educated Indian Muslims in Britain and the States," he said. [Link]
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