Bharatiya Janata Party MP Tejasvi Surya’s derogatory tweet from 2015 on Arab women has resurfaced on social media, triggering severe backlash.

The tweet, which has now been deleted, began doing the rounds after a business person in Dubai, Noora AlGhurair, posted a screenshot of it, Deccan Herald reported on Tuesday. In the post, Surya claimed to have cited controversial television personality and writer Tarek Fateh. “95% Arab women have never had an orgasm in the last few hundred years!” the BJP leader’s tweet read. “Every mother has produced kids as act of sex and not love.”

The BJP leader, who became an MP last year, deleted the tweet after it attracted widespread criticism. However, archived comments tweeted by social media users showed that he had attempted to justify what he had said, according to The Telegraph. “I have merely stated what Tarek Fatah said,” Surya had tweeted before removing the post. “Having said that, I agree with him that Islamofascism is [a] grave threat to civilisation.”

Surya has now defended his statement saying that the tweet was posted when he had not begun his career as a politician. “Must I even react to something from when I was not in public life?” he told Deccan Herald. “The same happened even during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. So, I guess this is going to be an annual fixture.”

The BJP MP’s secretary Aravind S told The Telegraph that the post had cited the Pakistani-Canadian journalist’s quote to Swarajya magazine for its March 2015 edition.

The resurfaced tweet sparked strong reactions from Arab nationals. “Pity your upbringing Tejasvi Surya that respect for women couldn’t be instilled in you despite India having some great female leaders,” AlGhurair tweeted. “Please note if some day the government bestows a foreign ministry to you, avoid travelling to Arab lands. You are not welcome here. This will be remembered.”

Lawyer Mona Alarbash tweeted: “We demand urgent and immediate accountability from [the Indian] Parliament and the government. We, the Arab Muslim women, are generational educators and directors of global competencies.”

Mejeb-al-shrika from the Kuwait Institute of Law and Legal Studies called for action against the BJP leader. “Respected Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India’s relation with the Arab world has been that of mutual respect,” he tweeted. “Do you allow your parliamentarian to publicly humiliate our women? We expect your urgent punitive action against Tejasvi Surya for his disgraceful comment.”

On Tuesday morning, Princess Hend Al Qassimi, a member of the United Arab Emirates royal family, tweeted a screenshot of a law on hate speech. “UAE law applies on nationals and non-nationals in terms of hate speech,” she tweeted.

Following a report in NDTV about Islamophobic social media posts, Al Qassimi tweeted: “I knew India, the country of Gandhi, a country which suffered enough. The whole world is on its nerves with Covid-19, but the hate should stop.”

Some members of the Opposition also condemned Surya’s remarks. Congress leader Sanjay Jha tweeted: “The BJP gives tickets to Pragya Singh Thakur and Tejasvi Surya etc because it helps popularise their hard-line bigoted political profile. But the chickens usually come home to roost. Today, India stands embarrassed, humiliated.”

Former MP and Congress spokesperson Udit Raj said Surya should not have deleted his comment but followed it up with another outrageous statement. “Tejasvi Surya shouldn’t have run from the debates on Arab woman orgasm,” Raj tweeted. “It may be worse in rural India. For his information, one of four women have sex out of wedlock in Iran. He should know hymenoplasty is increasing fast in Tehran. Without having orgasm, it isn’t possible.”

Meanwhile, India’s envoy in the UAE Pavan Kapoor has urged Indians in the country against discriminatory posts amid reports of Islamophobic comments made on social media. “India and [the] UAE share the value of non-discrimination on any grounds,” he tweeted. “Discrimination is against our moral fabric and the rule of law. Indian nationals in the UAE should always remember this.”

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