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December 7, 2023
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India facing Diplomatic Pushback After BJP Leaders’ Remarks on Prophet Mohammad (SAW)

Tawqeer Hussain

Days after the India’s ruling Party spokespersons made controversial statement against the Prophet Mohammad (SAW), India is now facing a diplomatic pushback in Gulf with Qatar, Iran and Kuwait on Sunday summoning India’s Ambassadors and some other key Gulf nations expressing their strong protest and condemnation of the controversial remarks of a BJP leader against Prophet Mohammed (SAW).

Seeking to defuse a diplomatic row, spokespersons of the Indian Embassy in Qatar and Kuwait said that the Ambassadors “conveyed that the tweets do not, in any manner, reflect the views of the Government of India. These are the views of fringe elements.”

The spokesperson said that Indian Ambassador to Qatar Deepak Mittal had a meeting in the Foreign Office in which concerns were raised with regard to some offensive tweets by individuals in India denigrating the religious personality.

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu is currently visiting Qatar and on Sunday he met Qatar’s Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani here.

Earlier, Soltan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Qatar, handed the note to the Ambassador of the Republic of India, the ministry said in a statement.

It welcomed the statement issued by the ruling party in India in which it announced the suspension of the party’s leader and said Qatar is expecting a public apology and immediate condemnation of these remarks from the Government of India.

“Strong action has already been taken against those who made the derogatory remarks, the spokesperson of the Indian Embassy here said.

“In line with our civilisational heritage and strong cultural traditions of unity in diversity, Government of India accords the highest respect to all religions, the official added.

Noting that vested interests that are against India-Qatar relations have been inciting the people using these derogatory comments, the embassy spokesperson said that the two sides should work together against such mischievous elements who aim to undercut the strength of their bilateral ties.

Meanwhile, the Kuwait Foreign Ministry said that the Indian Ambassador to Kuwait Sibi George was on Sunday summoned and handed over an official protest note by the Assistant Secretary of State for Asia Affairs expressing Kuwait’s “categorical rejection and condemnation” of the statements issued by an official of the ruling party against the Prophet.

The ministry welcomed the statement issued by the ruling party in India, in which it announced the suspension of the leader.

In Tehran, Indian Ambassador to Iran Dhamu Gaddam was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the Director General of South Asia on Sunday evening where a strong protest was registered by the Islamic Republic of Iran over the controversial remarks by the ruling party leader on against the Prophet, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported.

The Indian ambassador expressed regret and called any insult to the Prophet of Islam unacceptable, it added.

The development comes ahead of Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian’s planned maiden visit to India since taking charge last year.

BJP Suspended Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal

In New Delhi, the BJP suspended its national spokesperson Nupur Sharma and expelled its Delhi media head Naveen Kumar Jindal after their controversial remarks against the Prophet, as it sought to defuse a row over the issue.

Amid protests by Muslim groups over the remarks, the party also issued a statement aimed at assuaging the concerns of minorities and distancing itself from these members, asserting that it respects all religions and strongly denounces the insult of any religious personality.

The controversial remarks also sparked a Twitter trend in the Arab world calling for a boycott of Indian products.

Qatar Foreign Ministry in its statement said that allowing such Islamophobic remarks to continue without punishment, constitutes a grave danger to the protection of human rights and may lead to further prejudice and marginalisation, which will create a cycle of violence and hate.

The note indicated that more than two billion Muslims across the world follow the guidance of Prophet Mohammed, whose message came as a message of peace, understanding and tolerance, and a beacon of light that Muslims all over the world follow.

Qatar reaffirmed its full support for the values of tolerance, coexistence and respect for all religions and nationalities, where such values distinguish Qatar’s global friendships and its relentless work to contribute to the establishment of international peace and security, the statement added.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain Also Condemns The Controversial Remarks

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on Monday joined Qatar, Iran and Kuwait to express its condemnation of the controversial remarks of a BJP leader against Prophet Mohammed and called for “respect for beliefs and religions.”

In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its condemnation and denunciation of the statements made by the BJP spokesperson, saying it insulted Prophet Mohammed.

The ministry reiterated its “permanent rejection of prejudice against the symbols of the Islamic religion.”

It also rejected anything that give rise to prejudice against “all religious figures and symbols.”

While welcoming the measures taken by the BJP to suspend the spokeswoman, the ministry reaffirmed the “Kingdom’s position calling for respect for beliefs and religions”.

‘Increasing anti-Muslim activities in India’: OIC

Condemning the comments by the BJP functionaries, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) secretariat’s statement observed that it had occurred against the backdrop of increasing anti-Muslim activities in India.

“These abuses come in the context of the escalation of hatred and abuse of Islam in India and in the context of systematic practices against and harassment of Muslims, particularly in the light of a series of decisions to ban headscarves in educational institutions in a number of Indian states and demolitions of Muslim property, as well as increased violence against them,” said the statement.

The Islamic bloc called on the Indian government to address abuses against the Prophet and to also ensure the safety of India’s Muslim community.

“The Secretariat calls on the international community, particularly united nations mechanisms and special procedures of the Human Rights Council, to take the necessary measures to address practices targeting Muslims in India,” said the OIC statement.

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the Pakistan foreign ministry also issued a statement condemning the remarks and calling on the international community to take note of rising attacks against Muslims in India.

(With inputs from PTI and media reports)

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