Narendra Modi has Muslim relatives

Qantara.de - Dialogue with the Islamic World

Gandhi was born on October 2, 150 years ago. Worldwide he is a symbol of reconciliation and non-violent resistance, many Indians saw him for decades as a leading figure in the struggle for independence against British colonial rule. His likeness can still be found on all banknotes, his bust still adorns many official buildings on the subcontinent. There are also said to be a few commemorative events in India. But members of the ruling party and other Hindu nationalists want to settle accounts with him and thwart his legacy.

"I firmly believed that the teachings of absolute nonviolence advocated by Gandhi would ultimately lead to the emasculation of the Hindu community," wrote Nathuram Godse, "which would no longer be able to withstand the aggression of other communities, particularly Muslims ".

He went down in history as the Gandhi murderer. His 200-page confession "Why I killed Gandhi" - he wrote it shortly before his execution in 1949 - is not missing in any Indian bookstore today.

Deeply divided

Hardly anywhere in India has Gandhi's legacy of the peaceful coexistence of religions been more neglected than in Gujarat, on whose coast Gandhi grew up and where he set up his first spiritual center in Ahmedabad in 1915 Ashram, founded. Today Ahmedabad is traversed by a wall three kilometers long, three meters high, crowned with barbed wire and glass splinters set in concrete. It separates the Vejelpur district from the neighboring Juhapura.

Driving rhythms and the bells of the temples ring out on one side, in Vejelpur, a well-tended middle-class quarter in the south of the six million metropolis. Saffron-yellow flags waft along the roadsides and house facades. "For Hindus only," it says on signs posted on many apartment blocks.

On the other side of the wall, paved roads are the exception - Juhapura has grown to more than 400,000 inhabitants after the pogroms in 2002. Many Muslims have fled there after being driven from their homes in other parts of Ahmedabad. At that time, the current Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, was the state's head of government.

The district looks narrow, dusty and run down. Five times a day the muezzin calls for prayer in one of the nearly one hundred mosques. Green flags shape the picture. Juhapura is the largest Muslim ghetto in India. In allusion to the archenemy Pakistan, Juhapura is also called "Little Pakistan".