India's Muslims See Bias in Housing

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by Daredevil, Apr 19, 2009.

  1. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    India's Muslims See Bias in Housing

    Recent Increase Is Blamed on Islamist Terrorist Attacks in Mumbai Last Fall

    By Emily Wax
    Washington Post Foreign Service
    Sunday, April 19, 2009

    MUMBAI -- The sunny apartment had everything Palvisha Aslam, 22, a Bollywood producer, wanted: a spacious bedroom and a kitchen that overlooked a garden in a middle-class neighborhood that was a short commute to Film City, where many of India's Hindi movies are shot.

    She was about to sign the lease when the real estate broker noticed her surname. He didn't realize that she was Muslim, he said. Then he rejected her. It was just six weeks after the November Mumbai terrorist attacks and Indian Muslims were being viewed with suspicion across the country. He then showed her a grimy one-room tenement in a Muslim-dominated ghetto. She felt sick to her stomach as she watched the residents fight over water at a leaky tap in a dark alley.

    "That night I cried a lot. I was still an outcast in my own country -- even as a secular Muslim with a well-paid job in Bollywood," said Aslam, who had similar experiences with five other brokers and three months later is still sleeping on friends' sofas. "I'm an Indian. I love my country. Is it a crime now to be a Muslim in Mumbai?"

    In the months after the brazen three-day Mumbai terrorist attacks, stories like Aslam's are common, even among some of the country's most beloved Bollywood actors, screenwriters and producers in India's most cosmopolitan city. The accusations of discrimination highlight the often simmering religious tensions in the world's biggest democracy, where Muslim celebrities can be feted on the red carpet one minute and locked out of quality housing the next.

    The phenomenon has become known here as "renting while Muslim." It raises questions that go to the heart of India's identity as a secular democracy that is home to nearly every major religion on the planet. Although India has a Hindu majority, it also has 150 million Muslims, one of the largest Muslim communities in the world.

    "The new generation wants a better India that isn't bogged down in religious strife," said Junaid Memon, 34, a Muslim Bollywood director who is trying to promote religious harmony through his films and his Facebook site. "We shouldn't be an India that ghettoizes all Muslims to apartments near a mosque. This is a real test for modern India."

    With national elections across India that began Thursday and last a month, some Muslim activists and Bollywood film directors are raising the issue with political parties and trying to form a voting bloc.

    "This election, we have to talk about housing discrimination against Muslims," said Zulfi Sayed, a Muslim actor who is outspoken about the issue and is courting Hindus who agree with him. "In a shining India, this shouldn't be still such a common practice."

    Muslims have long served as an important swing vote in India, since Hindus are increasingly divided among nearly 200 regional parties. Historically, India's Congress party won elections with the help of the Muslim vote by running on a platform of promoting religious diversity. The opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has, at times, used anti-Muslim sentiment to court votes while pledging to keep Hindu heritage alive.

    India blames the Pakistan-based Islamist militant group Lashkar-i-Taiba for the November attack in which 10 gunmen left more than 170 people dead, including 40 Indian Muslims.

    Many Muslims here feared the attacks would unleash cycles of revenge killing of the sort that have recurred throughout India's modern history, from the violence of partition between India and Pakistan in 1947 to the 1992 riots in Mumbai. In the days after November's Mumbai attacks, Muslims from all corners of society united, holding candlelight vigils with a message to protest terrorism and pledge loyalty to India. In the end, there was no communal violence.

    But across the country, reports of housing discrimination have increased.

    Afroz Alam Sahil, 21, a student activist at Jamia Millia Islamia College in New Delhi, said that more than a dozen students from states such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar -- which have large Muslim populations -- have been unable to find housing since the Mumbai attacks.

    "Some Muslim friends have dropped out of college because they have nowhere to stay," Sahil said. "There is intense suspicion. Sometimes I ask myself why I was born Muslim."

    Rana Afroz, a Muslim editor with the newspaper the Hindu, is investigating the issue after spending three months unable to find a landlord willing to rent to her and her husband.

    "It is ridiculous that I have to prove to non-Muslims that I am not making bombs in my kitchen," she said. "Is this really the modern India I live in?"

    In India, Muslims are often segregated, and they experience high poverty rates and low literacy. Although they make up nearly 14 percent of India's population, they hold fewer than 5 percent of government posts and are just 4 percent of the student body in India's elite universities, according to a 2006 government report.

    But there are few issues more emotional than housing, especially in Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, India's pulsating city of dreams where aspiring farmers and filmmakers come from across the country to seek fame and fortune.

    "The ethos of Bombay is a city open to the world. The Muslims of this city feel that way, too. But the real question is why do we as Indian Muslims always have to be proving our loyalty?" asked Nawman Malik, a popular Bollywood producer who spent months searching for an apartment.

    Mumbai has always had tensions over what are known here as "vegetarian buildings," where meat eaters are not allowed to live and are thus seen as devices to keep out Muslims and lower-caste Hindus. Those kinds of buildings have become more common in middle-class and posh neighborhoods as more merchants and industrialists from the neighboring state of Gujarat, where vegetarian Hinduism is the norm, migrate to India's richest city.

    Managers of vegetarian buildings say they don't want the smell of meat in their hallways. But they often also explain their rules by saying they are worried about security and want like-minded residents to live together.

    "Say you check one renter and they seem okay. But then they go to mosque and bring back their bearded friends and those friends are terrorists," said Raj Pathak, a vegetarian-building manager in downtown Mumbai. "Why do we have to live with such fears?"

    Muslims, who have seen housing discrimination and the number of vegetarian buildings spike after every terrorist attack, see the issue as blatant discrimination.

    "Everyone knows the vegetarian-only restriction is code language for 'No Muslims,' " said Naved Khan, a Muslim real estate broker who is trying to help Bollywood's Muslims find housing.

    On a recent afternoon, Aslam, the producer, hung out at a cafe, as she sometimes does so she doesn't get on the nerves of those she is staying with. She wore jeans and a hooded sweat shirt.

    Until January, she was living with a Hindu roommate. Then their lease ended. Her roommate was getting married.

    "So I thought I would get my own place as a successful adult," said Aslam, who had come to Mumbai from Kolkata with dreams of landing a Bollywood job. "My mom was really proud of me. Now she's really upset."

    A broker recently showed her a house in a working-class neighborhood. "It looked haunted. But I was denied even that," she said.

    Another broker gave her advice: "Madam, live with a Hindu roommate. Only then will you get a flat."

    Special correspondent Ria Sen in New Delhi contributed to this report.


    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/18/AR2009041800792_pf.html
     
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  3. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    A very sad situation indeed but it is true. How to forge trust between people?. Should there be a law to punish landlords for doing this?. I don't see any solution unless people change their attitudes towards muslims.

    I always see these reports coming mainly from Mumbai. Is is the same in other cities as well.
     
  4. ahmedsid

    ahmedsid Top Gun Senior Member

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    In My state Kerala its not this rampant or anything and Muslims are on par with the rest, But mumbai its really tough I hear, and about Gujrat, the less said the better I think. But maybe someone can shed some light on it.
     
  5. nitesh

    nitesh Mob Control Manager Stars and Ambassadors

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    What is this if I own a house it is my right to give it to some one or not even thinking absurd.
     
  6. Pintu

    Pintu New Member

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    It is not good, if it is true that the whole thing is based on religion , it is really very sad. Here in West Bengal, no such things happen.
     
  7. Vinod2070

    Vinod2070 मध्यस्थ Stars and Ambassadors

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    It is sad but the answer is not enacting laws. The law of association is a fundamental right and having vegetarian only buildings per se is not illegal or even wrong.

    The issue is deeper than this. Its about the mutual distrusts among the communities and can't be legislated away. Its a long road to communal harmony and I think the current global situation and our pesky neighbor is playing its part in the communal situation.

    I think we have come a long way from the annual riots of 2 decades back but obviously there is a long that needs to be done. By both communities.
     
  8. thakur_ritesh

    thakur_ritesh Administrator Administrator

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    this indeed is true and this is not because of a certain 26/11 but this has now been going on for over a decade, post the riots that happened in the city and this is no way limited to one mumbai, it is happening all over the metros and why single out muslims ask people from north east or the pundits from j&k how they get treated in delhi and other parts of the country, i am sure its much worse for them but then they dont have as much a voice as the muslim community in india has. this by the way is not limited to someones residence, people from a certain communities are seen as less employable as are people from j&k, ne and people who are doing jobs find themselves in another problem and that is less opportunities of growth prospects. things have changed and some parts of society have become extremely polarised especially places where there has been communal tensions or places which have seen acts of violence between between various communities and a certain 9/11 certainly did not help in any which way, the rot of suspicion has only deepened.


    partly the whole system is to be blamed for the situation we find ourselves in. if someone wants to keep a tenant the landlord shirks from getting a police verification done which happens to be a basic necessity because that person feels that at the end he will be harassed and the very idea of verification is dropped and people on their part tend to play safe, same thing happens when people try and get a job, the employer if he wants to engage the police for the individuals verification tend to shy away from doing it as they suspect the “extortionist” police force will only try and extract money from the employer and here again the employer goes for a safe bet. now imagine if the police had been of help and they were doing their job properly, a lot of nonsense would not have been in the first place but then we as a society are corrupt to the core so this is just an extension of our core corrupt practices so for me this is nothing new.
     
  9. fateh71

    fateh71 Regular Member

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    This issue is tricky.

    I mean yes there must not be discrimination based on beliefs.

    But at the same time there should be discretion based on practices of the would be tenants.

    For example, when i lived in Singapore, some malay muslim landlords there would not rent out their houses to chinese, because they consume pork, whereas they would actively look for indians.

    i don't think enacting laws solves this issue, but some public awareness / campaigns etc would surely build trust and heal the wounds.
     
  10. jackprince

    jackprince Turning into a frog Senior Member

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    It does happen in WB too, may be not in that extreme; but still does. I had a friend - muslim by birth, secular by choice - but he had the last name Hassan, and he had to face many rejection asking to be paying Guest in Kolkata.

    Actually, the main issue here is far more of 'trust' than that of religion or beliefs. The more and more incidents happening where highly educated muslim youth are involved in terrorism act, none wants to take chance. It's sad, but it's the fact.
     
  11. shiv

    shiv Regular Member

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    until the image of Muslims is improved their situation wont improve,i have many Muslim friends in my college,on the first day i met one of them,i asked where he was living,he said no one is keeping him as a tenant so he is staying at a hotel.
    i even kept one of my old muslim friend from school in my house till he found a place to stay at,at last he had to shift into a shanty muslim ghetto where there was a powercut of 15 hours everyday.

    my point being it will take a lot of time for communal harmony to come,especially in a two-bit show secular country like india
     
  12. Antimony

    Antimony Regular Member

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    As a Bengali I was proud that we were above such prejudices. However, I came to knw of these in Calcutta too.

    This is certainly not good.

    To Nitesh who said that as a property owner has the right not to rent. No dispute over there.

    However, consider this. Americans have Freedom of Speech like no one else has. If large sections of their society start burning flags just because they legally can, you would still think that the society as a whole is not going down the correct path, right?
     
  13. johnee

    johnee Elite Member Elite Member

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    most balanced view was presented by ritesh(guruji).
    the thing is most communities prefer to reside and rent to their own communities, including the muslims. a muslim owner would prefer a muslim tenet and this is true for other communities as well.
    this is the general prejudice.
    now, add to it that certain groups in india are not trusted by certain other groups in india. a dalit might not get rent house in a brahmin colony, or a muslim might not get a rent in hindu colony...etc. this is becoz of the difference in personal beliefs and its spill over in society. also, a vegetarian may not want to rent the house to a non-vegetarian.

    most of these prejudices are slowly but steadily changing except that of muslims.
    why?
    becoz, when we talk of muslims in india, we need to remember that frequent riots and terror attacks have made many city dwellers suspicious of muslims. same way, many muslims find it comfortable in living in a muslim dominated area. also, BDs and sleeper cells dont help the cause of muslims' general image.
    ppl may not admit in open but the seeing the groups like taliban and their activity does affect one's mental perception of a religion attached to those ppl. and thus islam has poor image all over the world today. this is not limited to india or a few metros.
    this is the situation according to me.
    would bringing laws solve the prob?
    well, smoking in public is banned legally, has smoking in public stopped? if small thing like smoking in public cant be stopped, there is no way to solve this prob through laws or someother legal coercion.
    we need a more permanent and proper solution.
    so, how do we solve the prob? well, one group needs to understand the phsyche of other group and try allievate to their concerns.
    which group should do it? well, anyone can do it persay, but I think muslims need to do it immediately. now, why do I say this? simple, there seems to be an increase in distrust among muslims and non-muslims especially after indian mujahideen episode.
    muslims can wait for non-muslims to take the intiative, but why would they take intiative. this prob is not hurting them. this is hurting the muslims. so, muslims must take the intiative.
    muslims and islam need a image make over. moderates must show themselves, they must be vocal. not just for their rights but for the rights of others. they must be vocal for the entire india. here, muslim leadership has an imp role to play. also, who muslims choose as their leaders is also imp.
    if they choose a moderate looking, moderate sounding leader, then they will obviously get more acceptance. if they choose a conservative mullah-type leader with beard etc., then that would isolate them.
    just like a muslim would be wary of a leader who wears big tilak and holds trishul in hand, similarly, non-muslims would be wary of a muslim leader who has huge beard, wears a traditional cap. this is not to say that ppl who wear it are some kind of wrong ppl. I am attempting to simply give an insight into the general thinking.
    ppl generally judge us by our appearance. so, IMHO, when the other person looks and sounds just like you, there is bound to be less prejudice compared to say a person who wears the marks of his religion/community which is different from your own religion/community.

    then finally, a forward looking community and hard working one would never have any difficulty in india. the best example are sikhs. they are a success wherever they have gone. while muslims seem to be facing this prob of isolation world wide not just in india.
    the part of the prob lies in the fact the muslim leadership frequently asks the govts of their host nations to treat muslims as a special community(in accordance with sharia etc). this gives rise to lot of resentment in other communities. so, muslim leadership must stop asking for special privileges and work seriously for the welfare of their community. they can play a decisive role in integrating the community with in the society. this is true not only for india but other western nations as well.

    PS: no offence meant to any religion, caste or community. if any untoward comment has been made, it is unintentional.
     
  14. Samudra

    Samudra New Member

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    Personally, we have let out property to a bunch of Muslim boys back home. So I hope I don't get labelled crazy for saying what I'm going to be saying: friggin deal with it!

    Here in London they had to ask for my caste to know if I qualify to be a tenant in their house. And when I have to go look for a place to stay in a Muslim area I go fully aware that I might be denied a place just because I'm not from the ROP. Infact I have been denied a place just because I was a vegetarian. :connie_jail:
     
  15. Known_Unknown

    Known_Unknown Devil's Advocate Stars and Ambassadors

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    The divisions in Indian society run deep. It's not just an issue of Muslim vs everyone else, it is an issue of everyone vs everyone else. Many landlords rent out apartments only to Brahmins, a lot of apartment buildings, as the article mentions, are vegetarian only (which is not just biased against Muslims, but against every other group of people excluding maybe Jains, Gujaratis, and some select Brahmin castes), and there are many other landlords who rent out to tenants only from their background, like Punjabis, South Indians etc.

    In fact, I think that group that gets the most royally screwed is the North East Indians-the females are assumed to be prostitutes, and the males are assumed to be penniless! Not only that, but they are discriminated against just because of their Mongoloid features!

    The hard fact is that India is a very diverse, unequal, stratified society in social terms, and such problems are bound to remain until we develop both socially and economically. I think the only reason the housing discrimination against Muslims gets more publicity is because they are more cases of urban, progressive, high-profile Muslims being discriminated than the others.
     
  16. Antimony

    Antimony Regular Member

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    In Chennai I had been denied berth because for being a non-vegetarian
     
  17. mehwish92

    mehwish92 Founding Member

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    india is extremely divided, in almost every single way possible.

    it's sad, and the thing is, you can't even blame anyone. It's all a result of the circumstances we've been through in the past couple of centuries.

    we've had a history where muslims and hindus have killed each other...we have high poverty, and corruption, and groups like BJP and Bajrang dal harassing Muslims even more. This leads to some Muslims turning insane and taking up terrorism. Terrorists then attack more innocent people, leading to more alienation and division.

    Its just like how in the west, people are wary of taking in african-origin tenants, due to higher crime rates & poverty in their community (trying not to be racist).

    So really, you can't really blame anyone, as everybody is only acting in their own interest, to protect themselves.

    But i don't understand why such a successful Muslim from BOLLYWOOD wouldn't be given a house! What's wrong with THEM? They have money, less likely to indulge in terrorism. What else do you need?


    We all need to understand, though, that India is a developing country with major conflicts in the past, some of which continue to this day.

    What we need is for all of us to be UNDERSTANDING. Lets understand the circumstances we're in, and try not to take any of this personally.

    If we all try to be understanding of one another, and try our best to stay away from further conflicts, eventually, some day this problem will go away.

    We need time, and a good governmand dedicated to removing the divides.

    Unfortunately we're stuck with a government that loves to take advantage of these divides.
     
  18. mehwish92

    mehwish92 Founding Member

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    but the thing is, 90% of Indian Muslims are moderate! Compare Indian Muslims to any other Muslim community in the world (especially Pakistani, who claim to be an Islamic state for all the wrong reasons), and you will find Indian Muslims to be one of the most peaceloving, modern, intelligent, advanced communities of them all! (poverty and illiteracy is the only thing keeping us down)

    if you have been keeping up to date with all the news and terror attacks, you will see that almost all "Islamic" terror attacks in India, or any "Indigenous Indian terror outfits" all have links to Pakistan. Either they have bases in Pakistan, or are funded by Pakistan.

    The fact that this discrimination is happening against some Muslims is driving some of them into Pakistan's trap, to put it bluntly.

    So I'd like to say one thing to you. The Hindus and other communities of India have just as much responsibility to show goodwill & trust as the Muslims. Why? Because Muslims may be the ones suffering because of this housing bias & bad image of Islam, but ALL Indians are suffering because of terrorism!

    I'm not trying to justify terrorism as a result of discrimination of Muslims (nothing justifies killing innocent people). All I'm saying is, that this can help fight terrorism! We are all united against terrorism, so why does it matter who takes the first step (Muslims or non-Muslims)?
     
  19. Known_Unknown

    Known_Unknown Devil's Advocate Stars and Ambassadors

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    That's true. Indian Muslims, having lived in a multi-ethnic, free society, generally destroy the stereotype of Muslims presented by most of the Muslim world. And the sheer size of this community makes it important not just in an Indian context, but also a global one when prominent Indian-origin Muslims like Fareed Zakaria, Rushdie, A R Rehman, Salim Mansur etc represent the progressive, modern face of South Asian Muslims in the West-committed to secularism, democracy and fighting terror, and not brainwashed unlike their counterparts in countries from Pak to the middle east.

    Helps quieten the voices of those who talk about a clash of civilizations and how Muslims are fundamentally irreconcilable to the idea of freedom, democracy and modernity.
     
  20. luckyy

    luckyy Regular Member

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    real estate brokers also won't show a muslim dominated building to a hindu ..............

    nothing to do with discrimination , terrorisum or any thing like that...............

    it is more to do with different "ways of living" by the two communities........

    if i be living with a muslim neibour , surly i be inviting him on our festivels , pujas etc ( garnally we do have a puja on every feastval or any other occation)............now , what happened is that , he garnally won't came up and the main reason he give is that his community will consider him a kafer is he join to any hindu puja .....you know very well that booliwood acter Salman khan has been issued a fatwa on this matter when he join ganpati puja...

    so my dear friends .......this is it !
     
  21. NikSha

    NikSha Regular Member

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    What a retarded and biased article. Forget the part that this has been going on even before "26/11" but the same thing happens in muslim dominated localities (or with muslim landlords).

    It's just that majority out there living in developed areas is of Hindus so they become the "evil distrusting freaks of nature" while completely ignoring the fact that cause of religious tensions and the fact that most muslims do turn to terrorism (like it or not) chances of India suddenly turning into your dream location of equality are none.

    Oh and asking government to step in and do something about it, basically hold their hand and lead them through troubled waters all over again is going to just piss off people discriminating against them even more. Lemme know when those secular muslims everyone is talking about start holding protests over Kashmiri Pandits and all while they're at it. I know of most muslim kids I used to hang out with (apparently "secular") who are busy posting crap about India and Hindus on sites over Kashmir. Well, there goes the trust.. (and no, I am not going to lynch them like the evil Hindu I am).
     

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