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Bengaluru Riots: Did you know in the past Muslim mobs have attacked New Indian Express building and Deccan Herald over ‘insult to Prophet Muhammad’

Rampaging Muslim mob had stormed the building of the New Indian Express in Bengaluru in January 2000 for an article that allegedly insulted Prophet Muhammad

The southern metropolis of Bengaluru was yesterday convulsed with violent riots as the rabid Muslim mob went on a rampage on the streets of the city, indulging in incidents of arson and vandalism, protesting against an allegedly derogatory post on Prophet Muhammad uploaded on social media by a relative of Dalit Congress MLA Akhanda Shrinivasamurthy.

The otherwise serene city of Bengaluru was engulfed in bloody communal conflagration as the violent Muslim mob ran riot on the street, baying for the blood of the person who uploaded the post on Facebook. However, this is not the first time that the city of Bengaluru was embroiled in a bloody communal strife.

New Indian Express building stormed by Muslim protesters in January 2000

At the turn of the millennium, Bengaluru was similarly gripped in communal turmoil over a book written 7 centuries ago, as per a report published in India Today. The Bengaluru edition of the New Indian Express on the New Year’s Day in 2000 rankled Muslim community so much so that a large mob of 1000 protesters stormed the newspaper’s building expressing their protest against the article.

Muslims in Bengaluru were offended by an essay titled “The Millennium is Dead . . . Long Live the Millennium” which had a reference to Prophet Muhammad by the 13th century Italian poet Dante in the literary work Inferno. The irate mob swarmed the office premises of the New Indian Express against the perceived insult to Prophet Muhammad and vented out their anger against them.

The Bengaluru police just arrived in time to prevent any untoward incident. The law enforcement officials tried to disperse the crowd by employing baton-charge, tear-gas shells and persuasion. However, the angry mob swelled and they burnt down a lorry containing copies of the New Indian Express.

The news of the clashes spread like a wildfire in different parts of the city and soon irate Muslim mobs took to the streets to protest against the article. Several policemen were injured in the skirmishes with the protesters. Prohibitory orders were imposed in and around the buildings for the next 7 days.

A 20-member delegation of Muslim scholars led by the Bangalore Jama Masjid imam had a meeting with the chief reporter of the newspaper and demanded an apology from the author of the article and a regret note from the newspaper, which was carried on the front-page of the daily the next day.

In its apology letter and regret note, the newspaper alleged that the protests were instigated by disgruntled elements for “reasons other than defence of their faith”. The note emphasised that the newspaper respects and will continue to respect all faiths and their divine personalities including Islam and its Prophet. “We only hope that the Muslim community will get a better and more enlightened leadership which will work for the community and not their own advancement,” it read.

Communal riots in Karnataka in December 1986 over an article published in the Deccan Herald

Earlier in December 1986, an even more serious communal riots rocked the state of Karnataka when a story published in the Deccan Herald raised the hackles of the Muslims, touching off a violent wave of riots across the state, claiming 17 lives. While the writer of that story had gone on a pilgrimage to Sabarimala, the founder editor of the Hong Kong-based Asia week magazine had gone underground.

The main character of the story had the name of the prophet and the other members of the protagonist’s family carried names similar to that of the prophet’s family, which had triggered the riots.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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