As the bloody terrorist siege ended in Mumbai, 60-year-old Ibrahim Tai, a lean, pious man with salt-and-pepper stubble, didn't hunker down in a Muslim ghetto, fearing a backlash from Hindu fundamentalists. Instead he went on a crusade of his own, determined to deny the nine slain terrorists the martyrdom they sought: he reached out to Bada Kabrastan, the largest graveyard in Mumbai, urging officials there not to bury the terrorists. Almost immediately, Muslim organisations across the city unanimously declared that Muslim cemeteries had no space for those who orchestrated the attacks, which claimed the lives of nearly 200. 'The ideology of the terrorists is inconsistent with the tenets of Islam,' said Mr Tai, who is the president of the Muslim Council Trust, a non-governmental organisation. 'And so they aren't Muslims and don't deserve a burial in Muslim graveyards.' As India began pointing accusatory fingers at a pack of Islamic terrorists based in Pakistan, it was widely feared that the spotlight of suspicion would inevitably turn to Mumbai's Muslim community. With nerves frazzled and public emotions heightened after the attacks, which began on November 26, people dreaded the worst in some Muslim ghettoes around Mumbai: a sectarian assault from Hindu fundamentalists and anti-terrorism agencies. But, after almost two weeks, those fears seemed to have subsided, said Mr Tai, who lives in the bustling back lanes of Bhendi Bazaar - a grubby suburb infamously called 'Mini Pakistan' because of its Muslim majority. For now, life in Bhendi Bazaar is continuing normally, at its own sedate pace. Mumbai is identified by many as a fractious city which has witnessed ethnic riots in the past - rioting in December 1992 killed at least 900 people, most of them Muslims. Thereafter, the socio-ethnic fabric of Mumbai altered forever. Muslims moved out of Hindu-dominated areas, sequestering themselves in ghettos. Maulana Burhanuddin Qasmi, 38, is the director of Markaz-ul-Ma'arif, a local madrassa in Jogeshwari, a Mumbai suburb inhabited largely by Muslims. He admits he felt jittery as details about the terrorists, clearly identified as Muslims, emerged. He expected the bruised city to turn vehemently against Muslims. The gates of his madrassa were barricaded, the guards instructed to be very vigilant. But, to his surprise, nothing untoward has happened - at least not so far. This, Mr Qasmi says, is a sign of a maturing society that understands terrorism has an impact on everyone, cutting across ethnic lines. Official estimates point out that nearly 40 people killed in the latest attack were Muslims. Another reason for this shift in attitude, Mr Qasmi points out, is that in recent weeks India has seen a new face of terror, beyond Islamic fundamentalism imported from neighbouring Pakistan. At least 10 Hindu right-wingers were arrested last month for rigging bombs in motorbikes that tore through a crowd of Muslim worshippers in the western town of Malegaon. Six people died and hundreds were hurt in that attack, during the holy month of Ramadan in September. 'People now understand that no single religion has a monopoly over terrorism,' Mr Qasmi said. But he does not ignore the fact that, beyond riots, his real concern is the rising anti-Muslim feeling, which might intensify after the latest attacks. Following the serial bombings on commuter trains in Mumbai, in July 2006, several of his madrassa's students were viewed with suspicion, and had humiliating experiences like being refused housing and suffering discrimination in jobs - only because of their religion. 'After November 26, those experiences might come back to haunt us,' Mr Qasmi said. India has the second-largest Muslim population in the world - about 150 million people. But, in this crowded democracy of 1.15 billion, they are in a minority. According to the Sachar committee report, produced by a former Indian chief justice in 2006, Indian Muslims are a marginalised community. Fifty-two per cent of Muslim men and 91 per cent of Muslim women are unemployed. Almost half of Muslims over the age of 46 are illiterate. And, despite being a minority, Muslims account for 40 per cent of India's prison population. 'Muslims live in a sense of despair and suspicion,' the report stated. 'Branding them as terrorists and agents of Pakistan has a depressing effect on their psyche.' Ajmal Amir Kasab, the 21-year-old lone terrorist taken alive by the Indian police, reportedly told interrogators that he was recruited by Lashkar-e-Taiba, a banned Pakistani militant group. He also reportedly told them that the group hired a local Indian operative last year to explore targets for the Mumbai attack. As Indian investigative agencies comb Muslim ghettos hunting for that operative, some analysts fear they may harass innocent Muslims - as in previous terror investigations. '[India's] political leaders must be vigilant not to let these horrible events lead to a polarisation along religious grounds,' stressed Ramachandra Guha, a well-known Bangalore-based historian. 'That would be [tantamount to] playing into the hands of the terrorists.' The Indian public mood, too, Mr Guha notes, is taking on a dangerous undertone. Demanding a robust response from the government, Indian protesters are speaking the reckless language of revenge and reprisals. Last Wednesday, outside the Taj Palace hotel, a crowd wielding placards gathered to mark one week since the blasts. One rabble-rousing banner that stood out read: 'Let's Declare War.' 'This talk of war is deeply worrying,' Mr Guha said. 'The rage should be channelled to more constructive use, as in the reform of India's [defence forces].'