Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a strongly-worded statement, on Thursday urged the Indian administration to “stop the massacre of Muslims” and “confront extremist Hindus”. India has been on the receiving end of censure from several foreign countries and organisations over the Citizenship Amendment Act that triggered communal violence in parts of Delhi last week, claiming at least 53 lives.
“The hearts of Muslims all over the world are grieving over the massacre of Muslims in India,” Khamenei said in a tweet. “The government of India should confront extremist Hindus and their parties and stop the massacre of Muslims in order to prevent India’s isolation from the world of Islam.”
On Tuesday, India had reportedly summoned and a demarche was issued to Iranian envoy Ali Chengeni after the country’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif made remarks on the communal violence in parts of Delhi. In a tweet on Monday, Zarif had described the violence in parts of Delhi as a “wave of organised violence against Indian Muslims” and asked Indian authorities to not let “senseless thuggery” continue.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan responded to Khamenei’s tweet and thanked him for “speaking against the oppression and massacre of Muslims in India and Kashmiris in IOJK by the Hindu Supremacist Modi regime”.
He added: “Sadly, few voices from the Muslim World are speaking out & condemning this; and more voices are being raised in the West condemning the Hindu Supremacist Modi regime’s massacre of Muslims in India & Kashmiris in IOJK.”
Earlier in the day, India had denounced the criticism directed towards it from several international bodies and heads of nations saying that they should not make “irresponsible comments” at a sensitive time.
“We have seen certain statements being made on the recent incidents of violence in Delhi. At this stage, we would like to highlight that the situation is fast returning to normal,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in the weekly media briefing. “Law enforcement agencies are taking steps on the ground to restore confidence and also ensure that law and order is maintained.”
India also reacted to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s comments on violence in Delhi, and said such “irresponsible statements” were not expected from a head of state. New Delhi has responded with a “strong demarche” or formal diplomatic representation on March 3, Kumar said. India’s foreign ministry also claimed the remarks were “factually inaccurate and were driven by his [Erdogan] political agenda”.
On February 27, Erdogan had described the communal violence in North East Delhi as a “massacre”. “India right now has become a country where massacres are widespread,” he had said during a speech in Ankara. “What massacres? Massacres of Muslims. By who? Hindus.”
India’s External Affairs Ministry also highlighted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had appealed for peace and brotherhood. “Peace and harmony are central to our ethos,” Modi had tweeted, three days after violence broke out in parts of Delhi. “I appeal to my sisters and brothers of Delhi to maintain peace and brotherhood at all times.” The violence had claimed 24 lives at the time.
Pakistan and Indonesia have also criticised India over the communal violence in Delhi. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan had last week claimed that India had now decided to target all 200 million of its Muslims, and asked the international community to urgently step in. India had then reiterated that international bodies should not “indulge in irresponsible statements” at a sensitive time.