Derogatory Remarks Draw Ire of Iran, Qatar, Kuwait; BJP Suspends Leader

New Delhi: Ahead of the Iranian Foreign Minister’s first trip to New Delhi next week, foreign ministry in Tehran summoned the Indian ambassador over what state media called “insult against Prophet of Islam in an Indian TV show”.

The inflamatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) made by BJP spokespersons Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal have caused a stir in India and beyond. Several Muslim countries have summoned the Indian envoys to convey their anger.

Even though the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party suspended both the leaders over the controversial remarks, calling the comments “contrary to the party’s position on various matters…”.

In the meeting with the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s Director-General for South Asia, the Indian envoy “expressed regret & said any insult against Prophet of Islam is unacceptable & this doesn’t reflect the position of Indian gov’t, which has shown the utmost respect for all religions.”

The Indian envoy, for his part, expressed regret, saying that “any sacrilege against the Prophet of Islam is not acceptable at all”, a Press TV report said.

Apart from Iran, Qatar and Kuwait had also summoned India’s Ambassadors and handed over to them protest notes on what the Gulf countries called categorical “rejection and condemnation” of the controversial remarks of a BJP leader against Prophet Mohammed (Pbuh).

Qatar’s foreign ministry in a statement said that it summoned New Delhi’s envoy to Doha, after comments deemed to be offensive to Muslims were made by BJP’s national spokespersons.

The statement read that the authorities in Doha rejected comments made by the official against the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh).

“The state of Qatar stresses that these derogatory statements that incite religious hatred, globally insult Muslims, and indicate ignorance towards the pivotal role that Islam played in the world’s developments and civilisations, including in India,” said MOFA.

Views not of government: India’s Envoy

In response the Indian Embassy in Qatar said Ambassador Dipak Mittal has conveyed that the “tweets do not, in any manner, reflect the views of the Government of India. These are the views of fringe elements”.

“In line with our civilisational heritage and strong cultural traditions of unity in diversity, the Government of India accords the highest respect to all religions. Strong action has already been taken against those who made the derogatory remarks,” read the statement.

Vice President of India to Qatar

Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu on June 5 met Qatar’s Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani in Doha and the two leaders held delegation-level talks and reviewed bilateral relations including trade, investment, economic and security cooperation.

Naidu, who reached Doha on the last leg of his three-nation tour from May 30 to June 7, was accorded a ceremonial reception and a Guard of Honour at the Doha airport on June 4, PTI reported.

Kuwait summons Indian Ambassador

Kuwait’s deputy foreign minister for Asia summoned the Indian ambassador and handed over a note of protest over “abusive statements” against the Prophet, and also welcomed the suspension of the BJP spokesperson for the comments.

Call for boycott of Indian products

Following the development, # يا رسول الله الا مودي (#AnyoneButTheProphetOModi) has taken social media by storm, securing the number one trend on Twitter in Arab states.

Grand Mufti of Oman Sheikh Al-Khalili called for a boycott of Indian products, according to a Times of India report. There were also local media reports of many superstores in the Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain removing Indian products from their shelves.

BJP denounces the comments

In New Delhi, the BJP suspended its national spokesperson Nupur Sharma and expelled its Delhi media head Naveen Kumar Jindal after he allegedly posted a tweet about the Prophet but later deleted it. Unprecedented move by right wing BJP is seen as an attempt to defuse a row over the issue.

Arun Singh, the party’s general secretary, said in a statement that the party is strongly opposed to any ideology that degrades or demeans any sect or faith after controversy raged over BJP spokesperson’s statements.

Buckling under pressure Nupur Sharma apologized for her comments, tweeting, “I take back my words if they have hurt anyone’s religious sentiments.”

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