Taj Mahal’s attackers dispute site’s Muslim origins

Source: Religion News Service

By Vishal Arora

NEW DELHI (RNS) — Hindu nationalist groups in India have carried out violent attacks against Muslims and their properties for decades. Now, a group of Hindu nationalists is targeting the Taj Mahal, the world-famous monument built by a 17th-century Muslim emperor.

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On June 10, about two dozen members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or the World Hindu Council, pulled apart a 10-by-11-foot steel gate that had recently been installed for ticket collection at the Taj Mahal, located in the northern city of Agra. The ivory-white mausoleum was built by Emperor Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

“The gate was blocking the way to a 400-year-old temple of Hindu god Shiva,” said VHP leader Ravi Dubey, one of the vandals.

The Archaeological Survey of India, which manages the Taj Mahal, said there was an alternative route to the Hindu temple, rejecting Dubey’s claim that the gate was blocking the way. Dubey said the ASI had barred Hindu activities in the vicinity while allowing Muslims to offer namaz, or prayers, inside the complex.

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