Muslim countries including Qatar, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia condemn remarks about Prophet Muhammad made by top officials in India's Bharatiya Janata Party, as calls grow on social media for boycott of Indian goods in Muslim countries.
India's ruling right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has faced diplomatic backlash after Qatar, Kuwait and Iran summoned the country's envoys over insulting remarks on Islam's Prophet Muhammad by two of its officials, with several other Muslim countries also voicing outrage and condemning the statements.
In a statement on Sunday, the Qatari Foreign Ministry said it summoned the Indian envoy to voice "disappointment of Qatar and its total rejection and condemnation to the controversial remarks."
Qatari Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Soltan bin Saad Al Muraikhi handed a note to the Indian envoy, according to the ministry statement.
The note asserted that "these insulting remarks would lead to incitement of religious hatred, and offend more than two billion Muslims around the world." Doha is expecting "a public apology and immediate condemnation of these remarks," from the Indian government, it added.
Nupur Sharma, the spokesperson of the BJP, now suspended, had made insulting remarks against the Prophet and his wife Ayesha in a TV debate, triggering a wave of condemnation at home and from the Islamic world.
Another BJP spokesperson and the party's Delhi media head Naveen Kumal Jindal was expelled from the right-wing party over comments he made about Prophet Muhammad on Twitter.
Reacting to Indian ruling party official Nupur's remark's, Grand Mufti of Oman said, "the insolent and obscene rudeness of the official spokesman for the ruling extremist party in India against the Messenger of Islam and his pure wife Aisha is a war against every Muslim in the east and west of the earth, and it is a matter that calls for all Muslims to rise as one nation."
Sheikh Al-Khalili also called for boycott of Indian products in the Arab country.
The Islamophobic discourse has reached dangerous levels in a country long known for its diversity & coexistence. Unless officially & systemically confronted, the systemic hate speech targeting #Islam in #India will be considered a deliberate insult against the 2 billion Muslims. https://t.co/YcYyAoZcE3— لولوة الخاطر Lolwah Alkhater (@Lolwah_Alkhater) June 5, 2022
Doha seeks public apology
The remarks by a spokesperson for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party last week were blamed for clashes in an Indian state and prompted demands for her arrest, with anger spreading overseas to Muslim countries.
BJP distanced itself from their remarks, saying it has suspended Sharma and expelled Jindal. In response to Doha's "public apology" demand, India said the remarks on Prophet Muhammad were made by "fringe elements" and that they did not reflect the views of the government.
Modi's party, which has frequently been accused of acting against the country's Muslim minority, said it "respects all religions".
The Saudi-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) also condemned the remarks, without specifying the insult, saying they came in a "context of intensifying hatred and abuse towards Islam in India and systematic practices against Muslims".
Pakistan said in a statement it condemns in the "strongest possible terms" the highly derogatory remarks. "Pakistan once again calls on the international community to take immediate cognisance of the grievously aggravating situation of Islamophobia in India," it said.
BJP’s attempted clarification and belated and perfunctory disciplinary action against these individuals cannot assuage the pain and anguish they have caused to the Muslim world.— Spokesperson 🇵🇰 MoFA (@ForeignOfficePk) June 5, 2022
FO PR No. 265/2022
Iran, Kuwait summon Indian envoy
Meanwhile, Iran's Foreign Ministry’s South Asia department also said that the Indian ambassador in Tehran was summoned to register Iran's protest over the insulting remarks.
Earlier, Kuwait's Foreign Ministry said it summoned the Indian ambassador and handed over a memorandum of protest, expressing "categorical rejection and denunciation" of the insulting comments.
Afghanistan became the latest country to condemn the insulting comments.
"The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan strongly condemns the use of derogatory words against the Holy Prophet of Islam by an official of the ruling party in India," Afghan Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said.
"We urge the Indian government not to allow such fanatics to insult the holy religion of Islam and provoke the feelings of Muslims."
Niyaz Farooqui, secretary of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, India's largest socio-religious Muslim organisation, urged the Indian government to take legal action over the insulting remarks.
"We have requested the government of India to take legal action, arrest them and penalise them, only then it would be considered right action has been taken", he said.
Tasleem Rehmani, president of the Muslim Political Council of India, called the suspension of the BJP spokesperson "a drama."
"Expel her permanently and send her to Jail. Nothing short of this can be accepted," Rehmani said on Twitter.
The BJP officials' remarks also sparked a Twitter trend in the Arab world calling for a boycott of Indian products.
Grocery stores in Middle East remove Indian products to punish India for insulting prophet Mohammad (pbuh) Large scale boycott campaign announced in Muslim countries pic.twitter.com/NTCYkBT2t3#الهند #Arab ##إلا_رسول_الله_يا_مودي— South Asian Journal (@sajournal1) June 5, 2022
Muslims under harsh BJP rule
Since Modi came to power in 2014, Hindu mobs have lynched scores of people — mainly Muslims and Dalit Hindus — suspected of illegally transporting cows or consuming beef.
Hindu far-right groups have also targeted Muslims over "love jihad", the conspiracy theory that Muslims are luring Hindu women with the aim of conversion and eventually national domination.
Muslims were also accused of spreading Covid-19. In recent years, Hindu mobs have targeted Muslims praying on Fridays in northern India.
BJP recently banned wearing the hijab in classrooms in Karnataka state. Hardline Hindu groups later demanded such restrictions in more Indian states. Muslim mutton sellers and fruit vendors have also become the target of the far-right Hindu groups.
During a Hindu festival earlier in April, Hindu mobs pelted stones on mosques in several areas while DJs played loud music outside the mosques as worshippers prayed.
Hindu monks known for their incendiary anti-Muslim rhetoric have been calling for Rohingya-type ethnic cleansing of Indian Muslims.