At least 15 countries, including Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the UAE, Jordan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bahrain, Maldives, Libya, Turkiye and Indonesia have lodged official protests against India over the controversial remarks.
INDIA is facing major diplomatic outrage from Muslim countries after top officials in the ruling Hindu nationalist party made derogatory references to Islam and the Prophet, drawing accusations of blasphemy across some Arab nations that have left New Delhi struggling to contain the damaging fallout.
At least 15 countries, including Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the UAE, Jordan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bahrain, Maldives, Libya, Turkiye and Indonesia have lodged official protests against India over the controversial remarks by two prominent spokespeople from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party. Anger has poured out on social media, and calls for a boycott of Indian goods have surfaced in some Arab nations.
The anger has been growing since last week after the two spokespeople, Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal, made speculative remarks that were seen as insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his wife Aisha.
A chorus of diplomatic outrage began with Qatar and Kuwait summoning their Indian ambassadors to protest. The BJP suspended Nupur Sharma and expelled Jindal and issued a rare statement saying it “strongly denounces insult of any religious personalities,” a move that was welcomed by Qatar and Kuwait. Later, Saudi Arabia and Iran also lodged complaints with India.
On Sunday, India’s embassies in Qatar and Doha released a statement saying the views expressed against the Prophet and Islam were not that of the Indian government but made by “fringe elements.” Both statements said that strong action has already been taken against those who made the derogatory remarks.
Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said it expected a “public apology” from the Indian government and Riyadh said the comments were “insulting” and called for “respect for beliefs and religions.”
The comments were made by Nupur Sharma during a TV debate last week in the backdrop of a series of communal incidents across the country. BJP media chief Naveen Jindal posted a tweet about the Prophet, risking damaging India’s ties with Arab nations..
They also led to anger in Pakistan and in Afghanistan.
On Monday, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry summoned an Indian diplomat and conveyed Islamabad’s “strong condemnation,” a day after Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif said the comments were “hurtful”.
The UAE has also condemned the statements, reiterating that it rejects “all practices and behaviours that contradict moral and human values and principles”.
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) also condemned the remarks and urged the United Nations to take necessary measures to ensure that the rights of minorities are protected in India.
At home, the opposition parties stepped up pressure for legal action against the two BJP leaders and accused the party of denting the country’s image at the international level.
The BJP, however, has suspended spokesperson Nupur Sharma and expelled Naveen Jindal over the controversial comments. As a damage control measure, the party on Sunday issued a statement, saying it is “strongly against any ideology which insults or demeans any sect or religion” and “does not promote such people or philosophy”.
— AP with inputs added