India has been forced to placate its trading partners in the Islamic world after a pronounced backlash over some controversial comments made about the Prophet Muhammad by Nupur Sharma, a prominent BJP leader.
Nupur Sharma, who was a spokesperson of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), made the remark in a televised debate last month,
The controversial comments sparked a nationwide outrage among India’s Muslim community, leading to sporadic protests in some states, as well as rebuke from India’s trading partners in the Islamic bloc internationally.
Kuwait, Qatar and Iran called its Indian ambassadors to register their protest on Sunday, while Saudi Arabia also condemned the remarks on Monday. Qatar said it expected a public apology from India.
‘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 marginalization, which will create a cycle of violence and hate,’ Qatar’s ministry of foreign affairs said.
‘The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its condemnation and denunciation of the statements made by the spokeswoman of the BJP, read a statement by Saudi Arabia.
India’s ambassador to Qatar, Deepak Mittal, said the remarks from some ‘fringe elements’ did not represent the views of the Indian government.
The 57-member Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and Pakistan have also criticized India. The Indian government replied to this criticism, saying their comments were ‘unwarranted and narrow-minded.’
Analysts say that the top leadership of the party and the government may have do some damage control over the issue, as they risk affecting India’s trade ties with the Arab world. India’s trade with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which includes Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman and the UAE, stood at $87 billion in 2020-21.
Qrius will not reproduce Ms. Sharma’s remarks as they are offensive in nature.
While she has issued a public apology, the BJP has suspended Ms. Sharma.
Senior BJP leaders and other diplomats have also condemned the controversial remarks.
‘The BJP strongly denounces insults of any religious personalities of any religion. The BJP is also against any ideology which insults or demeans any sect or religion. The BJP does not promote such people or philosophy,’ the party said in an official statement.
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