The Ministry of External Affairs on Monday said Kuwait did not support any interference in India’s affairs and it was deeply committed to a friendly relationship. Both the countries had to do damage control on Monday after a Cabinet note from Kuwait criticising the targeting of Indian Muslims amid the coronavirus crisis was leaked over the weekend.

The note, dated March 2, had called on global leaders and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to stop attacks on Muslims in India and bring an end to the bloodshed, according to the Hindustan Times. The Arabic note was leaked on Twitter on Sunday by a Kuwaiti scholar.

“We have seen certain references to India in non-official social media handles in Kuwait,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, according to PTI. “The government of Kuwait has assured us that they are deeply committed to friendly relations with India. They also do not support any interference in the internal affairs of India.”

Srivastava added that India had recently responded to Kuwait’s request and deployed a Rapid Response Team to assist the country in its fight against the coronavirus. “During its two week stay in Kuwait, the team rendered valuable medical assistance in testing and treatment of afflicted persons and training their personnel,” he said. “It is therefore important that friendly and cooperative nature of our relations is accurately recognised and misuse of social media is not given credence.”

Ambassador of Kuwait to India Jasem al-Najem also spoke about not interfering in other countries’ internal matters. The two countries share many principles in their “foreign policies, like respecting the UN Charter, non-interference in other countries’ affairs and respecting sovereignty of nations”, he was quoted as saying by Kuwaiti news agency KUNA.

Kuwait and India have a historic relationship and “always seek to develop them in [the] political and economic domains”, he added.

India’s relationship with Gulf countries has been a matter of concern over the past few weeks following criticism on social media about the attacks on Muslims. Last week, several Indian embassies in the Gulf urged citizens to remain vigilant against a spate of derogatory posts on social media linking the coronavirus pandemic to the Muslim community in India.

The tweets came after a backlash in Arab countries over instances of Muslims being targeted in India amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation had urged the Narendra Modi government to take urgent steps to protect Muslims who are being “negatively profiled” and facing “discrimination and violence” in India. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom said it was concerned about stigmatisation and blaming of Muslims for the spread of the disease, and cited a report that a hospital in Gujarat was splitting patients by faith in Covid-19 wards. The government of Gujarat later claimed the report was false.

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