//Muslims fight a daily battle with stereotypes

Muslims fight a daily battle with stereotypes

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times,

New Delhi, November 30, 2006        

Every bearded man is an ISI agent"…"Muslim boys are the first to be picked up by the police when something goes wrong". These are some of the grievances that Muslim bodies took to the Sachar panel.

They even said there were more "policemen in Muslim localities than schools, industries, public hospitals and banks". Security personnel enter Muslim homes on the slightest pretext. The report also said that Muslims are forced to live with an "inferiority complex".

The committee also talked about the public ridicule that Muslims have to face when they wear their identity — burqa, beard and the cap. "Muslim men are usually the first to be picked up from public places," the report said.

Blaming the police and the media for overplaying the involvement of Muslims in violent activities and often underplaying the role of other groups, the report said the political mileage sought from such incidents hurt the community. The panel has recommended that the police should be sensitised towards Muslims.

In an oblique reference to the communal riots in Gujarat, the committee said the large-scale sexual violence against Muslim women has had a ripple effect even in places that not directly affected by the violence.

There is also an "underlying feeling" of injustice regarding the compensation to riot victims — Muslims said they were discriminated against and cited delay in disbursement of the compensation.

The committee found that this sense of insecurity comes from the fact that there are just 3.2 per cent Muslims in police forces and four per cent in the Indian Police Service. "The lack of adequate Muslim presence in the police force accentuates this problem in almost most Indian states," the report said. Muslim presence is even lower among IAS (three per cent) and Indian Foreign Service (1.8 per cent).

Many Muslim women complained that finding a job for veiled women was getting increasingly difficult in the corporate sector. Muslims said their children had problems getting into good educational institutions though most prefer educating their children in general schools than madrasas.

The report also said that Muslims, especially the youth, feel alienated because of their poor representation in the bureaucracy and in politics.

Thirty per cent of Muslim-majority villages have no primary schools and believe that the content in schoolbooks is communal. Muslim children who go to madrasas are treated as terrorists.

Email Chetan Chauhan: chetan[AT]hindustantimes.com