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The Muslim mind

Published : Dec 20, 2002 00:00 IST

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WITH a view to understanding the opinions and the attitudes of Muslims better, the survey added a `booster sample' for Muslims. Quota sampling was used to interview additional 98 Muslim respondents. This `booster sample' has been used only for the analysis in this section. In all, we interviewed 234 Muslims all over Gujarat. Of these 14 per cent had directly suffered during the post-Godhra violence and 27 per cent knew a family member or a friend who had suffered.

The political responses are flat and on the expected lines. The carnage has left little room for political choice. There were some who were clearly uncomfortable with and distrustful of the survey process and gave responses to suit the `official' visitor. Otherwise, Muslim respondents were quite categorical in their preferences for the Congress and its leadership. The violence affected the voting decision of 23 per cent, mostly by way of reinforcing their vote for the Congress, the traditional party for 69 per cent. Their disapproval of the Gujarat government for its general record and its role during the riots is to be expected. Narendra Modi is clearly an object of intense disapproval in this section.

Muslim respondents have very little trust in the Gujarat government and its officials and virtually none in the police. But trust in the judiciary and the election commission is still very high. Muslim respondents are as much prone to accepting communal propaganda as the Hindu respondents. Their responses also reveal the social distance that separates the two communities. A majority of Muslims would like a ban on inter-religious marriages and cannot see how one can have the same degree of empathy for people of another religion as one's own. Notwithstanding all this, there are clear signs that the Muslims of Gujarat have not lost all hope in the democratic system. As high as 71 per cent of those who responded affirm their belief in democracy.

(This story was published in the print edition of Frontline magazine dated Dec 20, 2002.)

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