Tension and success in Indian holy city as mosque dispute intensifies – World

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The city of Varanasi is a focus of conflict in India as Hindus seek to claim centuries-old Islamic monuments for their majority faith. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has lent support to this campaign, most recently by inaugurating a new temple at the site of a mosque destroyed by Hindu zealots decades earlier. The Gyanvapi mosque, one of the largest Muslim congregations in Varanasi, has become a center of dispute, with a local court recently ruling that its basement be opened to Hindu worshipers. Muslim worshipers are distressed at this ruling and feel the official backing for the Hindu claim. Tensions outside the mosque are high, with police presence and increased Muslim congregants for prayers. Modi’s government has been increasingly championing Hindu causes, with the recent inauguration of the Ayodhya temple being seen as another sign of the growing marginalization of India’s Muslim minority. This temple was opened on the site of the Babri mosque, demolished by Hindu zealots in 1992. Hindu activists claim that the mosque was built atop a Hindu shrine during the Mughal empire, and they see the court decision to open the Varanasi mosque to Hindus as “one step forward” in their campaign to right historical wrongs.

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