Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iran slam BJP for remarks on Prophet, summon Indian envoy

While the BJP tried to diffuse the situation by suspending Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal, Arab countries have condemned the BJP as its spokespersons made remarks against Prophet Mohammed.
Collage of Naveen Jindal on the left and Nupur Sharma on the right
Collage of Naveen Jindal on the left and Nupur Sharma on the right
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As the controversy surrounding two BJP spokespersons’ contentious remarks against Prophet Mohammed snowballed, and after Qatar condemned the party, three other Gulf countries — Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia — have followed suit. The three countries slammed the move and issued summons to the Indian envoys regarding the issue on Sunday, June 5. Seeking to defuse a diplomatic row, spokespersons of the Indian Embassy in Qatar and Kuwait said that the Ambassadors "conveyed that the tweets do not, in any manner, reflect the views of the Government of India. These are the views of fringe elements."

The national party on Sunday suspended its national spokesperson Nupur Sharma and expelled its Delhi media head Naveen Kumar Jindal, after their controversial remarks against the Prophet, as it sought to defuse a row over the issue. Amid protests by Muslim groups over the remarks, the party also issued a statement aimed at assuaging the concerns of minorities and distancing itself from these members, asserting that it “respects all religions” and “strongly denounces the insult of any religious personality”. The controversial remarks also sparked calls for the economic boycott of Indian products in these countries, and hashtags against PM Modi were trending there.

The Indian Embassy spokesperson said that Indian Ambassador to Qatar, Deepak Mittal, had a meeting in the Foreign Office during which concerns were raised with regard to the BJP spokespersons’ remarks and tweets, denigrating the Prophet. Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu is currently visiting Qatar, and on Sunday, he met Qatar's Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani there. Earlier, Soltan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Qatar, handed the note to the Ambassador of the Republic of India, the ministry said in a statement.

It welcomed the statement issued by the ruling party in India in which it announced the suspension of the party's leader and said Qatar is expecting a public apology and immediate condemnation of these remarks from the Government of India. The Indian Embassy spokesperson responded that “strong action” has been taken against those who made the derogatory remarks. He also said that “vested interests”, which are against India-Qatar relations, have been inciting the people using these derogatory comments.

Meanwhile, the Kuwait Foreign Ministry said that the Indian Ambassador to Kuwait, Sibi George, was on Sunday summoned and handed over an official protest note by the Assistant Secretary of State for Asia Affairs. The note expresses Kuwait's "categorical rejection and condemnation" of the statements issued by an official of the ruling party against the Prophet. The ministry welcomed the statement issued by the ruling party in India, in which it announced the suspension of the leader.

In Tehran, Indian Ambassador to Iran Dhamu Gaddam was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the Director General of South Asia on Sunday evening where a strong protest was registered by the Islamic Republic of Iran over the controversial remarks by the ruling party leader on against the Prophet, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported. The Indian Ambassador expressed regret and called any insult to the Prophet of Islam unacceptable, it added.

Qatar Foreign Ministry in its statement said that allowing such Islamophobic remarks to continue without punishment, constitutes a “grave danger to the protection of human rights” and may lead to further prejudice and marginalisation, which will “create a cycle of violence and hate”.

The note indicated that more than two billion Muslims across the world follow the guidance of Prophet Mohammed, whose message came as one of “peace, understanding and tolerance, and a beacon of light that Muslims all over the world follow”.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has also condemned the remarks by Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal. It welcomed the BJP’s move to suspend them, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs there “reaffirming its permanent rejection of prejudice against the symbols of the Islamic religion, alongside all religious figures and symbols.

Nupur Sharma’s contentious remarks were made during a TV news debate on Times Now,  on the discovery of a shivling-like structure in Varanasi’s Gyanvapi mosque earlier in May. Nupur had said that Muslims were mocking Hindus for calling the figure a ‘shivling’ even though it was later reportedly found to be a fountain. She added that she can mock things in the Quran as well, and went on to make a comment about Prophet Muhammed.

Along with Sharma, the party also suspended industrialist and former BJP legislator Naveen Jindal, who had drawn flak for a June 1 tweet in which he questioned Prophet Mohammed’s marriage to Aisha.

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