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Guj Muslims break free of communal divide via work

September 3, 2008, 11:30 AM IST India India
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Surendranagar (Gujarat): In Gujarat, Muslim communities like the Khojas and Bohris have always been known for their successful businesses. Today, there is a new generation of young Gujarati Muslims like Muzahid Malik who want to break free of the wounds of the past and go back to being the successful entrepreneurs they always were. Thirty-five-year old Malik runs a resort, Rann Riders - a successful business venture - near little Rann of Kutch in Surendranagar, Gujarat. This 35-year-old Muslim entrepreneur serves his guests from across the globe with traditional Gujarati hospitality. Malik says he has a business mantra. "I always quote our honourable Chief Minister who said that tourism unites and terrorism divides. I meet people from every part of the globe and religion has never come in between us." And Malik is not the only one. There are more and more Muslims in Gujarat who now want to break free of past constraints. "When everyone is imposing constraints on them, more and more youth want to break free and make a place for themselves in society,” says a resident of Ahmedabad, Hanif Lakdawala. But what worries young entrepreneurs like marble merchant, Sarvar Chauhan is the growing perception that Muslims are linked to terror. Chauhan says the Gujarati Muslim has always been known for business and trade not for politics or terrorist activities. "It is bad that the entire community gets blamed. There are hundreds of youth who just want to work for themselves, their city, state and country,” says he. Against the backdrop of a sharp communal divide in Gujarat, Muzahid Malik and scores of youth like him have successfully broken free of stereotypes. These stories simply drive home the point that the Gujarati entrepreneurial spirit transcends all boundaries.