Monday, March 23, 2009

U.N. warns India against anti-Muslim injustice

NEW DELHI: The U.N. human rights chief urged India Monday to counter suspicion against its Muslim minority following the Mumbai attacks and warned the country's strict anti-terror measures threatened human rights.

India is still on edge after gunmen killed 166 people in a three-day rampage on the financial hub last November.

Hundreds of Muslims were detained and questioned over the attacks, angering rights activists who said innocent people were caught up in the backlash.

"The horrific terrorist attack in Mumbai has also polarized society and risks stoking suspicions against the Muslim community," said U.N Human Rights chief Navanethem Pillay.

"Both internal and external terrorist threats have led to counter-terrorist measures that put human rights at risk," Pillay said in New Delhi during her India visit.

Religious and caste-based prejudices remain entrenched in Indian society, she said.

Secular India has a long history of tensions between its majority Hindus and minority Muslims that have exploded in deadly violence. More than 2,000 people, mainly Muslims, were killed in communal riots in Gujarat state in 2002.

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