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Maldives parliament rejects motion that sought condemnation of BJP leaders’ remarks on Prophet

Maldivian Home Minister Imran Abdulla said it is not his responsibility to express the government's views on insults against Prophet Muhammad.

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New Delhi: The Maldivian parliament Monday rejected a motion that called on President Ibrahim Solih’s government to condemn remarks made against Prophet Muhammad by two leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India.

The move comes at a time when several Arab countries have mounted a diplomatic offensive against India over the controversial statements.

The emergency motion was filed by Maldivian opposition MP and former Minister of Defence and National Security, Adam Shareef. A total of 43 parliamentarians voted on the motion, which was rejected with only 10 MPs voting in favour while the remaining 33 voted against it.

The call for condemnation comes amid India facing a backlash from other Muslim-majority countries in the Arab world, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and bodies like the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), over remarks made by former BJP spokespersons Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal.

Sharma, who was suspended from the party amid the diplomatic row, allegedly made controversial comments about Prophet Muhammad during a TV debate last week. Delhi BJP’s media head Naveen Kumar Jindal was also expelled from the party for allegedly making similar derogatory comments.

The ruling Maldivian Democratic Party, however, has avoided commenting on the controversy.

Maldivian Home Minister Imran Abdulla said that it is not his responsibility to express the government’s views on insults against Prophet Muhammad, according to local reports.

Opposition ‘disheartened’ over Maldives’ silence

While presenting his motion on the floor of the Maldivian parliament Monday morning, Shareef, deputy leader of the opposition party, People’s National Congress (PNC), said he was “disheartened” over the fact that while other Muslim-majority countries have registered complaints against India, the Maldivian government has stayed silent, reported local newspaper SunOnline.

“It is extremely concerning that Maldives as a fully Islamic country has not said a word over the slander of Prophet Muhammad whilst Indian Muslims, leaders and citizens of Islamic countries have protested, condemning the act in strong words; foreign relations bodies of some countries have summoned Indian ambassadors over the matter and social media campaigns have been launched at some countries urging action against India,” read the motion submitted by Shareef.

Ahead of the vote, the Progressive Congress Coalition — an alliance formed by PNC and another major Maldivian opposition party, Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) — released a statement directed at the BJP, urging it to address “growing Islamophobia” in India.

“The reprehensible and appalling comments by Nupur Sharma and by extension the BJP is testament to the growing Islamophobia, systemic racism, and caste-based violence in India, which seeks to destabilise India…We urge the BJP to address these real issues plaguing India and engage in comprehensive dialogue with all stakeholders to enable a safe environment for the Muslim population of India,” read the statement from Progressive Congress Coalition.

In April this year, the Maldivian government banned the opposition’s “India Out” campaign that had been underway since 2020. The campaign was based on the claim that Indian military officers stationed in the Maldives are a violation of the island country’s sovereignty, although this has not been proven.

Also read: Go beyond Nupur Sharmas, Jindals—BJP needs to course-correct before 2024 Lok Sabha polls


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