Tight security for India mosque destruction anniversary

Police in Ayodhya were seen checking vehicles and stopping some passers-by for questioning as they sought to prevent any flare-up in violence. (AFP)
Updated 06 December 2018

Tight security for India mosque destruction anniversary

  • The anniversary of the destruction is always tense with some hard-liners seeking to commemorate the event
  • Many Hindus believe Ayodhya marks the birthplace of the deity Ram, and that the mosque which stood there for 460 years was only built after the destruction of an earlier temple

AYODHYA, INDIA: Some 2,000 baton-wielding Indian police were on duty in the flashpoint city of Ayodhya on Thursday to prevent any clashes around the anniversary of the destruction of a mosque.
Hindu zealots reduced the Babri mosque to rubble in 1992, kicking off riots across India that left thousands dead, most of them Muslims, and the site’s future has become a major touchstone issue in Indian politics.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014 pledging to construct a temple on the same spot, but the issue remains tied up in the courts.
The anniversary of the destruction is always tense with some hard-liners seeking to commemorate the event, and on Thursday police were taking no chances, standing behind yellow steel barricades, checking vehicles and stopping some passers-by.
With around 1,500 Hindu devotees visiting the city, watchtower guards and security cameras were trained on the ruins of the Babri mosque, which are protected by a high steel fence.
There was no violence but police arrested eight people including a local priest who threatened to set himself on fire.
Many Hindus believe Ayodhya marks the birthplace of the deity Ram, and that the mosque which stood there for 460 years was only built after the destruction of an earlier temple.
Modi, running for a second term in 2019, has faced some disquiet from his core supporters who feel that he has not done enough for the cause of having a temple built.
Uttar Pradesh’s state premier Yogi Adityanath, a firebrand monk who has long campaigned for the temple, has also unveiled plans to build the world’s largest statue in Ayodhya — a 221-meter (725-foot) bronze Ram.
On an average day, a few thousand Hindu devotees visit the makeshift temple that was established after 1992.
Meanwhile, on Thursday dozens of holy men dressed in saffron robes gathered at an auditorium, chanting “Jai Shri Ram” (“Hail Lord Ram“) and pledging to have a temple in place before next year’s anniversary.
Muslim groups held small commemorations of those who lost their lives in 1992.
“All we want is peace and harmony. Muslims and Hindus of Ayodhya have always lived in harmony but it is the politicians who stoke hatred for their electoral gains,” said Mohammed Shahzad, who runs a meat shop in the city.
“The mosque in my neighborhood was attacked during the riots in 1992. Our home was set on fire, we somehow managed to save our lives. We don’t want a repeat of the violence at any cost.”
Kalyani Ubhe, a tourist, said: “A temple must be built here. It is a matter of Hindu faith and devotion. We have a right to pray at the birthplace of Lord Ram.”
This was echoed by Sharad Sharma, the local spokesman for Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a militant right-wing outfit linked to Modi’s BJP that co-organized a rally by tens of thousands of devotees in Ayodhya last Sunday.
Another rally is set to take place in Delhi this Sunday.
“Our Lord Ram is being made to run around the courts for so many years... There is no question about the fact that Ayodhya is the birthplace of Ram. We want a magnificent temple to be built there,” Sharma said.
“Our patience is running out. We can’t wait indefinitely for something which is our right. It is a question of Hindu identity and faith. We want an ordinance to be brought as the courts have been sitting on this matter for decades,” he said.
“Once a grand temple is built here, tens of thousands of devotees will come.”


France teacher’s killer had ‘contact’ with militant in Syria

Updated 23 October 2020

France teacher’s killer had ‘contact’ with militant in Syria

  • Anzorov’s suspected contact had been located through an IP address traced back to Idlib

PARIS: The investigation into the murder in France of a teacher for showing caricature of the Prophet Muhammad in class turned to Syria on Thursday, where the killer had a militant contact, a source close to the case said.
Seven people have been charged with being complicit in a “terrorist murder” after 18-year-old Chechen Abdullakh Anzorov killed Samuel Paty on Friday, including two teenagers who helped him identify the teacher.
France paid homage to Paty on Wednesday, with President Emmanuel Macron saying that the history and geography teacher had been slain by “cowards” for representing the secular, democratic values of the French Republic.
In their search for accomplices, anti-terror investigators have now established that Anzorov had contact with a Russian-speaking militant in Syria whose identity is not yet known, the source told AFP.
Le Parisien newspaper reported on Thursday that Anzorov’s suspected contact had been located through an IP address traced back to Idlib, a militant holdout in northwestern Syria.
In an audio message in Russian immediately after the killing, translated by AFP, Anzorov said that he had “avenged the Prophet” whom the teacher had shown “in an insulting way.”
The message was published on social media in a video, accompanied by two tweets, one showing the victim’s severed head and another in which Anzorov confessed to the murder.
Moments later he was shot dead by police. Anzorov decapitated Paty with a long knife.
Many of Paty’s students saw the images online before they could be taken down.
The teenagers who pointed out Paty to his killer in return for money were late Wednesday charged over the killing.

HIGHLIGHT

Le Parisien newspaper reported on Thursday that Anzorov’s suspected contact had been located through an IP address traced back to Idlib, a militant holdout in northwestern Syria.

The parent of one of Paty’s pupils, who started the social media campaign against the teacher even though his daughter was not in class when the cartoons were shown, was also charged.
Also charged was a known extremist radical who helped the father stir up outrage against Paty.
The other three facing prosecution are friends of Anzorov, one of whom allegedly drove him to the scene of the crime while another accompanied him to purchase a weapon.
Two of them also face c harges of being complicit in terrorist murder while the third was charged with a lesser offense, the anti-terrorist prosecutor’s office said.
Paty, 47, became the target of an online hate campaign over his choice of lesson material — the same images which unleashed a bloody assault by gunmen on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January 2015.
Police have carried out dozens of raids since the crime, while the government has ordered the six-month closure of a mosque outside Paris and dissolved the Sheikh Yassin Collective, a group they said supported Hamas.
The French government has earmarked for dissolution more than 50 other organizations it accuses of having links with extremists.
Paty’s beheading was the second knife attack since a trial of alleged accomplices in the Charlie Hebdo attack started last month.
The killing has prompted an outpouring of emotion in France, with tens of thousands taking part in rallies countrywide in defense of free speech and the right to mock religion.
“We will not give up cartoons,” Macron vowed at a ceremony Wednesday in Paty’s honor at the Sorbonne university in Paris.