Dubai- Anger is spreading in the Middle East over disparaging comments made by an official of India’s ruling party about the Prophet Muhammad, with various countries summoning New Delhi’s envoy and demanding a public apology.
The United Arab Emirates – a close India ally – became the latest Gulf state to voice its condemnation of the remarks made last week by Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal, two members of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The right-wing party took no action against Sharma and Jindal until Sunday when a chorus of diplomatic outrage began, with Qatar and Kuwait summoning their Indian ambassadors to protest. Shortly afterwards, the BJP suspended Sharma and expelled Jindal, and issued a rare statement saying it “strongly denounces insult of any religious personalities”.
The UAE’s foreign ministry on Monday said the BJP officials’ comments were “contrary to moral and humanitarian values and principles”. The ministry underlined the “need for respecting religious symbols… and countering hate speech”, state news agency WAM reported.
Earlier, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other Muslim-majority countries in and outside the Gulf region condemned the comments by the BJP members.
On Sunday, Qatar demanded a “public apology” from New Delhi for the comments, as India’s Vice President Venkaiah Naidu visited the gas-rich nation in a bid to bolster trade.
In a statement, Qatari Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Soltan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi said the BJP officials’ remarks “would lead to incitement of religious hatred, and offend more than two billion Muslims around the world”.
It added that Doha is expecting “a public apology and immediate condemnation of these remarks” from the Indian government.
“The Islamophobic discourse has reached dangerous levels in a country long known for its diversity and coexistence. Unless officially and systemically confronted, the systemic hate speech targeting Islam in India will be considered a deliberate insult against two billion Muslims,” Qatar’s Assistant Foreign Minister Lolwah al-Khater tweeted.
Iran followed Qatar and Kuwait by summoning the Indian ambassador to protest in the name of “the government and the people”, state news agency IRNA said late on Sunday. (Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies)
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