Hundreds of Islamic leaders in India demanded Tuesday that the government protect their community from persecution, saying Muslims were being unfairly targeted in a police crackdown after bombings across the country.
Communal politics has surfaced as an issue ahead of a general election due in early 2009, with attacks on Christians and suspected Islamist bombings polarizing a secular government and Hindu-nationalist opposition.
"Today, with the injustice and harassment, Islam and Muslims in this country are under threat," said Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari, influential leader of the Jama Masjid mosque, the largest in north India.
"We have been quiet for a long time, but we cannot take this anymore. We too have rights."