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Arab world angered over anti-Prophet remarks, India says act by ‘fringe elements’

Angered by anti-Islamic statements by BJP spokespersons, Kuwait, Qatar and Iran summoned Indian envoys and handed diplomatic notes expressing disappointment and condemnation.

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New Delhi: Controversial statements made by spokespersons of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) against Prophet Mohammed and Islam have given rise to a major diplomatic row between India and the Arab world, with New Delhi’s envoys to Qatar, Kuwait and Iran being summoned Sunday and handed over diplomatic notes of protest.

The Government of Qatar Sunday expressed its “disappointment” over remarks made by the BJP spokespersons against Prophet Mohammad and Islam by summoning Indian envoy Deepak Mittal.

This happened even as the BJP first issued a statement saying it denounces insult of any religious personalities and also took action against those party members who made those remarks.

In the diplomatic note, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed “the disappointment of the State of Qatar and its total rejection and condemnation to the controversial remarks made by an official in the ruling party in India against Prophet Mohammed”,

Qatar’s Foreign Affairs Minister Soltan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi handed the note to Ambassador Mittal.

“The State of Qatar welcomed the statement issued by the ruling party in India in which it announced the suspension of the party’s official from practicing his activities in the party due to his remarks that angered all Muslims around the world,” as per a statement issued by the Qatari government.

“Noting that State of Qatar is expecting a public apology and immediate condemnation of these remarks from the Government of India, pointing out 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 marginalization, which will create a cycle of violence and hate,” it added.

Mittal was also told, that Qatar “affirmed that these insulting remakes would lead to incitement of religious hatred, and offend more than two billion Muslims around the world, and indicate the clear ignorance of the pivotal role that Islam has played in the development of civilizations around the world, including in India.”

“Qatar reaffirmed its full support for the values of tolerance, coexistence and respect for all religions and nationalities, where such as these values distinguish Qatar’s global friendships and its relentless work to contribute to the establishment of international peace and security,” it added.

This happened at a time when Vice President Venkaiah Naidu is currently on a visit to Doha where he met Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani.

Kuwait also summoned India’s Ambassador Sibi George and expressed its protest over “abusive statements” against the Prophet.  “The continuation of abusive statements without deterrence or punishment will constitute to increasing aspects of extremism and hatred and undermining elements of moderation, noting that issuing such statements reflects a clear ignorance of the message of peace and tolerance of our Islamic religion, and the great role Islam has played in building civilizations in all countries of the world, including India,” it said in a statement.

Escalating the tensions further, Iran also summoned the Indian envoy to Tehran and lodged its protest. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation also issued a statement protesting the offensive remarks.

Also Read: BJP suspends Nupur Sharma, expels Naveen Kumar for remarks on Prophet Muhammad

‘Views of fringe elements’

On its part, the Indian Embassy in Doha said the views expressed against the Prophet and Islam were not views of the Indian government but by “fringe elements”.

“Ambassador had a meeting in the Foreign Office in which concerns were raised with regard to some offensive tweets by individuals in India denigrating the religious personality. Ambassador 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 Indian Embassy said in a statement.  “In line with our civilisational heritage and strong cultural traditions of unity in diversity, Government of India accords the highest respect to all religions. Strong action has already been taken against those who made the derogatory remarks.”

The embassy also said that “vested interests” that are against friendly ties between India and Qatar are “inciting the people using these derogatory comments”.  “We should work together against such mischievous elements who aim to undercut the strength of our bilateral ties,” it added.

India shares friendly ties with both Qatar as well as Kuwait.

Neighbouring Pakistan also waded into the row over remarks made against the Prophet. “I condemn in strongest possible words hurtful comments of India’s BJP leader about our beloved Prophet…,” Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif tweeted.

Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there have been rising attacks on people and places of worship in India, asserting that America will continue to stand up for religious freedom around the world while releasing its annual International Religious Freedom report that criticised New Delhi.

(Edited by Tony Rai)

Also Read: Modi govt committed to ‘development’, not ‘discriminatory politics’ says Nadda to foreign envoys




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