On July 13th, the Sunni Central Waqf Board of Uttar Pradesh declared that the Taj Mahal was Muslim property, and claimed ownership of the monument. Their claim is based on the Islamic principle that any burial ground where Muslims are interred belongs to Islam (see last month’s post on this topic).
But it seems that the Indian government is not going to roll over for the Islamists. According to the Economic Times,
|Finally, it took the Taj Mahal to bring the ruling Congress and the opposition BJP on the same side of the fence. Both the government and the BJP today rejected the Waqf Board move to stake claim over the Taj Mahal.|
|While Union law minister HR Bharadwaj today described the historic monument as “national property” and said the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) shall continue to look after it, BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi urged the Prime Minister to disband the Waqf Board instead.|
|“The Taj is a national property and the whole controversy is a self-created one. I am surprised about the declaration. They (Waqf Board) already have so much property and they do not know how to take care of it. There is no need of any other body to look after the monument as the ASI is taking care of it quite well,” Mr Bharadwaj said.|
|On the other hand Mr Naqvi today urged the Prime Minister to do away with the very concept of the Waqf Board. In a letter to Dr Manmohan Singh, he charged the Waqf Board with lending a religious colour to historic heritage such as the Taj Mahal and claiming it as its property saying it was a challenge to Indian Constitution, law and order and democratic structure which “if not taken seriously, could lead to serious consequences in the coming days”.|
|“If mosques, burial grounds and places where namaz is offered become the criteria for Waqf property, then perhaps 90% of important buildings would have to be handed over to Waqf Boards. There is an imminent need to discuss the relevance and necessity of institutions like the Waqf Boards—which cannot pay its employees, maintain its assets and are mired in controversy— in a secular country.”|
And what about Arlington Cemetery? Are there any Muslims buried there? It seems to me there must be. Let’s hope that Donald Rumsfeld has the same kind of sand as the Indian government.
Update: According to Northern Virginiastan, there are definitely Muslims buried in Arlington Cemetery. Stay tuned...
Further update: The exact link is here.