Stay off Islamic sites, Mir Waiz tells Hindus
25 May 2007
The Daily Times
Srinagar: A prominent separatist in Indian Kashmir on Friday voiced anger over an Indian army hearts and minds effort involving the renovation of Muslim shrines. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a moderate campaigner for Kashmirs independence and chief priest at Kashmirs main mosque, dismissed the programme as loaded with political motives. He said the soldiers, the vast majority of whom are Hindus, should keep their hands off Islamic sites. A mosque or a shrine cannot be renovated with donations from non-Muslims. It is unacceptable, he told AFP. The fact remains that every Kashmiri wants the Indian army out of the state. The Indian army says it has renovated at least a dozen Sufi shrines as a goodwill gesture for a public that views Indian soldiers as trigger-happy occupiers, rather than social workers. Most Kashmiris follow the traditionally apolitical Sufi branch of Islam, and some clerics have urged a boycott of mosques and shrines renovated by the army.