CAIRO - A recent anti-terror drill has infuriated Indian Muslim and Hindu activists after portraying Muslims as terrorists who rejected these portrayals which stereotype and stigmatize the whole Muslim community.
"Whoever is harming the country should be labeled terrorists, Imam Qari Khaleeque Ahmed of Jama Masjid told Times of India on Sunday, September 9.
But one should not insult the sentiments of Muslim community only," he said.
The Imam also added that Islam is a religion of peace and harmony and it does not spread the message of violence.
The anti-hijacking mock drill was conducted at the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport last Thursday.
Actors playing terrorists in the drill, that was conducted by city police and airport security agencies, wore skull caps and flowing kurtas, which is traditional attire generally associated with Muslim men.
Commandos belonging to city police's Quick Response Team (QRT) and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) had participated in the drill under the supervision of the anti-hijacking committee.
In the drill scenario, the crack team was supposed to free an international aircraft from terrorists who had commandeered it.
Muslim and Hindu intellectuals and organizations expressed their dismay, sending their grievances to the state home minister RR Patil.
"I do not understand why the actors wearing terrorists weren't wearing common clothes?" activist Mohammed Hamid, president of Indian Muslim Association Noori, said.
He added that even Hindus were seen as terrorists.
"Why turn away from the other aspects of terrorism?" Hamid asked.
Dismayed by the drill, Muslim activists said that terrorism has no caste, color, community or creed.
"India a secular democratic country and security agencies must practice restraint in such situations," advocate and activist Tushar Mandlekar said.
There are some 140 million Muslims in Hindu-majority India who have repeatedly complained of being selectively and unfairly targeted by anti-terror police.
They also accuse authorities of feeding stereotypes about their religion.
Indian Muslims complained decades of social and economic neglect and oppression as well as being discriminated against in all walks of life.
Official figures reveal Muslims log lower educational levels and higher unemployment rates than the Hindu majority and other minorities like Christians and Sikhs.
They account for less than seven percent of public service employees, only five percent of railways workers, around four percent of banking employees and there are only 29,000 Muslims in India's 1.3 million-strong military.