The United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Jordan, Maldives, Pakistan, Bahrain and Afghanistan on Monday joined several Muslim-majority countries to condemn the disparaging remarks made by two Bharatiya Janata Party spokespersons about Prophet Muhammad, reported PTI.
Nupur Sharma made the remarks during a debate on the Times Now television channel on May 26, while Naveen Jindal, who was media head of the BJP’s Delhi unit, had posted a tweet on June 1 about the Prophet, which he later deleted.
On Sunday, Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia had registered official protests against the controversial remarks. Qatar had demanded a public apology from the Indian government. The BJP suspended Sharma and expelled Jindal after the diplomatic outrage began.
Anger has poured out on social media and a supermarket in Kuwait even pulled Indian products from its shelves to denounce the remarks, AFP reported.
On Monday, the United Arab Emirates underscored the need to respect religious symbols and not violate them, as well as confront hate speech and violence.
“The United Arab Emirates has condemned statements by the spokesperson for the Indian Bharatiya Janata Party, expressing its denunciation and rejection of insults of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him,” a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said.
Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation in the world, said it “condemns unacceptable derogatory remarks” against the Prophet. “This message has been conveyed to Indian Ambassador in Jakarta,” said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Jordan also “condemned in the strongest terms” the offensive remarks of the BJP leader, who has been suspended from party’s primary membership.
Maldives said it is “deeply concerned” by the derogatory references to Islam and the Prophet. “The government of Maldives unreservedly condemns all and any action that purports to pervert the true nature and teachings of Islam and attempts to demean the holy Prophet Muhammad,” a statement said.
Pakistan said it has summoned the Indian chargé d’affaires to convey its categorical rejection and condemnation of the remarks.
Pakistan’s foreign office said that it deplored BJP’s delayed action against its spokespersons. It also called upon the international community to take steps to stop Islamophobia in India and urge the Modi-led government to protect human rights of minorities.
Bahrain’s foreign affairs ministry stressed on the need to “denounce any reprehensible insults against the Prophet Mohammad”. The West Asian country also welcomed the Indian government’s decision to suspend Sharma.
The Taliban-led interim Afghan government urged the India not to allow “such fanatics” to insult Islam and provoke Muslims.
Envoys in the Gulf summoned
On Sunday afternoon, the foreign ministry of Qatar had summoned India’s Ambassador, Deepak Mittal, to explain the comments made by the two BJP spokespersons. Notably, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu is on an official three-day visit to Qatar.
Qatar also told the Indian government that if such Islamophobic remarks go unpunished, it may “lead to further prejudice and marginalization, which will create a cycle of violence and hate”.
The foreign ministry of Kuwait also summoned the Indian Ambassador to the country, Sibi George, and handed over an official protest note. The note by the assistant secretary of state for Asia Affairs expressed Kuwait’s “categorical rejection and condemnation” of the statements made by Sharma and Jindal, PTI reported.
Kuwait, however, welcomed the BJP’s decision to suspend Sharma from the party.
In Tehran, the director general of South Asia summoned Indian Ambassador Dhamu Gaddam to lodge Iran’s protest on the matter.
Saudi Arabia also issued a formal protest to reject the “prejudice against the symbols of the Islamic religion”.
In response, the Indian Embassy in Qatar and Kuwait said that the comments had been made by “fringe elements” and that they did not reflect the views of New Delhi.
India said that strong action has already been taken against those who had made derogatory remarks.
“A statement has also been issued by concerned quarters emphasizing respect for all religions, denouncing insult to any religious personality or demeaning any religion or sect,” the Indian Embassy in Doha said.
India has the largest expatriate population in several of the Gulf nations, with official data showing that nearly 6.5 million Indians live in the region, according to The Indian Express. Apart from being dependent on crude oil and gas, India also enjoys trading relations with many of these countries in the region.