Saturday, 19 May 2007

Why did terrorists choose Mecca Masjid?

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, May 19: Terrorists have chosen the historic Mecca Masjid for the Friday's bomb blast for the simple reason that the mosque has been linked to the sentiments of Hyderabadis.
For the 25 lakh Muslims of Hyderabad, Mecca Masjid is more than a mosque. It is a sacred place of high reverence and the mosque of their aspirations. And for the people of Andhra Pradesh, irrespective of their religion, the 400-year-old Mecca Masjid is a historical monument of great eminence.
Terrorists know well that anything sacrilegious at the mosque will arouse the emotions of people and lead to communal disturbances in the city. Moreover, Mecca Masjid has always been the focal point of communal trouble in the city. The mosque has open access and there's no security mechanism.
Mecca Masjid is one of the seven wonders of Hyderabad and the biggest mosque down the Vindhyas. Only the other historic Jama Masjid in Delhi is bigger than Mecca Masjid. Incidentally, the Jama Masjid was built by Emperor Shahjahan while the Mecca Masjid was completed by his son Emperor Aurangzeb.
"The Mecca Masjid was selected as the target site as the casualties will be higher. It is the principal mosque in twin cites and devout Muslims generally prefer to offer the Friday prayers at Mecca Masjid. Even those who come from outside straightaway visit the grand mosque for the Friday congregation. The mosque harbours the holy relics of Prophet Muhammad, besides a black stone (Sang-e-Siya) specially brought from Mecca during the mosque construction," observes senior Islamic scholar Hafiz Syed Shujat Hussain.
A peep into the past shows that Mecca Masjid was the "starting point" for almost every "retaliatory" step by local Muslim youths. The mosque has emerged as the centre of protests particularly after the demolition of the historic Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in December 1992.
"Though the mosque is controlled by the State government's minorities welfare department, officials have always failed to maintain its sanctity when it comes to controlling violent protests by some misguided elements everytime a major incident related to Muslims or Islam takes place around the globe. The mosque has an open access. Erection of metal detectors outside the mosque and thorough frisking of people visiting it will prevent such incidents," points out All-India Shia Youth Organisation general secretary Mir Hadi Ali.

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