Five Muslims were burnt to death and a sixth person was shot by police as fresh Hindu-Muslim violence flared in India's riot-racked Gujarat state, police said on Wednesday.
The grisly bodies were discovered a day before Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee makes his first visit to the state since the religious bloodletting erupted late in February.
Police said the remains of the five were found on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, the state's main commercial city, adding to more than 800 people, mostly Muslims, who have already been killed in the wave of violence.
"Five charred bodies were recovered this morning from one of three houses burnt by a Hindu mob early on Wednesday," a senior police officer told Reuters.
Four people suffered burns and were in hospital, he said…
Both the state and federal governments have been heavily criticised by opposition parties for failing to act swiftly to stop the carnage -- charges they have denied.
The violence erupted on February 27 after a Muslim mob torched a train carrying hardline Hindus, burning 58 people alive. That sparked a wave of reprisal killings in which around 750 people, mostly Muslims, were killed.
Some 100,000 people, mainly Muslims, are sheltered in relief camps in the state. Many have lost their homes in arson attacks or are too terrified to return to them for fear of being targeted by their Hindu neighbours, relief workers say.
It was the fall of 1187, and an emissary from the besieged city of Jerusalem had come to beg Saladin, the sultan of Egypt, for mercy. After barely four days of assaults, the Christian defenders saw that Saladin had
them hopelessly outmatched. Waiting in his tent outside the city's walls, the Muslim ruler knew both sides had a lot riding on the outcome of this battle.
For the city's defenders, the prospect of Saladin's wrath loomed. The last time Jerusalem was sacked by an invading army--a Christian one--its narrow streets ran red with blood. For Saladin, his honor depended on capturing Jerusalem. All summer his armies had battled their way north through the Holy Land, sweeping through the Christian fiefs like an angry desert wind, with only one goal: recapturing the holy city that had been occupied by European invaders for 88 years.
Now the sultan stood on the hills north of Jerusalem. But the Christian emissary trudging toward him had no prize to offer, only surrender. For days Saladin's men had bombarded the city from the heights to the north,
finally breaching St. Stephen's Gate. The few defenders who remained knew that prolonging the fight would only worsen the consequences of defeat. And so a triumphant Saladin entered Jerusalem on Oct. 2, 1187. For the sultan's army, it was a moment of both joy and sadness.
Christians had profaned some of Islam's holiest sites. The al-Aqsa mosque had been used as a stable for horses. Pieces of the rock from which Mohammed was said to have ascended to heaven had been chipped away to sell in Constantinople.
But the victorious Saladin forbade acts of vengeance. There were no more deaths, no violence. A token ransom was arranged for the thousands of residents. Saladin and his brother paid for hundreds of the poorest themselves and arranged guards for the caravans of refugees.
Sound familiar? If not, don't feel bad. Saladin doesn't get much play in Western history books…
More than nine centuries after Urban II called the first Crusade, the legacy of misunderstanding and animosity is still with us today. In the West, many of the most lasting misperceptions of Islam stem from that time. In the Arab and Muslim world, the Crusades have made an unfortunate rhetorical comeback. "Such analogies are really not very helpful to understand the Crusades or present-day realities--they obscure rather than clarify," says Kedar. "People get so obsessed with . . . the past that they don't react to the reality but to the reflection." With that reflection distorted almost beyond recognition by rhetoric and misunderstanding, a clearer vision of the past has never been more important.
Mubashir Jamal was different from the other teens he knew in high school.
At a time when many of his peers were partying at clubs and losing their virginity, Jamal, now 18, refrained from drinking alcohol or smoking marijuana.
A practicing Muslim, Jamal spoke of prayer, and engaged in lively debate over religion and western society during English class.
"Religion became a real taboo in high school," he recalled. "When you enter an environment like that it makes it even more difficult when people don't understand." Now a student at Dawson College, Jamal continues to stand out because of his religious beliefs.
He displays them on the black knit tuque on his head, and on his sweatshirt. Jamal is wearing Muslim Gear, a clothing line launched to promote greater understanding of a religion he says is frequently misunderstood.
Sitting in an empty Muslim prayer room at Concordia University, Jamal points to a phrase emblazoned in white on the back of a black T-shirt worn by a friend, Ali Merali.
Just below the Muslim Gear logo, the shirt refers to Islam as "more than a religion."
"The main intention is to raise awareness about Islam," Jamal said. "When we have statements like this…it invokes questions in people's minds…"
For additional information, go to: www.muslimgear.com