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Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Taliban, join diplomatic offensive, condemn ‘insult’ to Prophet by BJP leaders

Responding to criticism by Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said 'action has already been taken against these individuals (BJP leaders) by relevant bodies'.

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New Delhi: The diplomatic row over controversial statements made by two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders against Prophet Muhammed continues, with the governments of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain calling for the “rejection of prejudice” against all Islamic symbols, even as they condemned controversial statements made by the two BJP leaders “insulting” Prophet Muhammed.

The Taliban government in Afghanistan meanwhile said the Indian government should not allow “fanatics” to insult the Islamic religion. The comments have also been denounced by  Sheikh Abdur Rahman Al Sudais, Imam of the Grand Mosque of Mecca.

Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also summoned India’s Charge d’ Affaires in Islamabad Monday, while the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) — a major grouping of the six gulf nations of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, & UAE — issued a statement expressing its strong protest against the remarks.

Meanwhile, a day after the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) issued a strong statement against the BJP leaders’ comments, Arindam Bagchi, official spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs, said in a statement Monday that “strong action has already been taken against these individuals by relevant bodies”, and that it was “regrettable that OIC Secretariat has yet again chosen to make motivated, misleading and mischievous comments”.

A day before, the Indian Embassy in Doha said Sunday that the views expressed against the Prophet and Islam were not views of the Indian government but by “fringe elements”.

The BJP Sunday suspended national spokesperson Nupur Sharma and expelled Delhi BJP media in-charge Naveen Kumar Jindal for their comments against the Prophet.  The party also issued a statement denouncing insult to any religious personality.

Statements by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the GCC and the Taliban government follow the governments of Qatar, Kuwait and Iran summoning Indian ambassadors to their respective countries Sunday and handing over diplomatic notes of protest.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses its condemnation and denunciation of the statements made by the spokeswoman of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, insulting Prophet Muhammed and reaffirms its permanent rejection of prejudice against all the symbols of the Islamic religion and refuses to prejudice all religious figures and symbols,” said the Saudi government in a statement.

Welcoming the decision by the BJP to suspend Sharma, Riyadh said it reiterated the Kingdom’s position calling for “respect for beliefs and religions”.

The Kingdom of Bahrain, meanwhile, stressed on the “need to denounce any reprehensible insults against the Messenger of God Muhammad as a provocation to Muslims’ feelings and incitement to religious hatred.”

It also called for “concerted efforts of the international community to spread the values of moderation, tolerance and dialogue between religions and civilizations, and to confront extremist ideas that feed sedition and religious, sectarian or racial hatred.”


Also read: 5 reasons for the crisis in global Islam

Pakistan summons India’s Charge d’ Affaires

Meanwhile, a day after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the comments by the two BJP leaders, the issue was taken up by the neighbouring country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which summoned India’s Charge d’ Affaires in Islamabad Monday.

“The Indian Charge d’ Affaires was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and conveyed the Government of Pakistan’s categorical rejection and strong condemnation of the highly derogatory remarks made by two senior officials of India’s ruling party BJP about the Holy Prophet Muhammad. He was told that these remarks are totally unacceptable and have not only deeply hurt the sentiments of the people of Pakistan, but of Muslims across the world,” read a statement issued by MoFA.

The statement added: “The Indian diplomat was further told that Pakistan deplores the belated and perfunctory disciplinary actions taken by the BJP government against the said officials, which cannot assuage the pain caused to the Muslims.”

The country further stated that “The growing mainstreaming of the reprehensible anti-Muslim sentiment and the increasing attempts at depriving the Muslims of their centuries-old places of worship citing frivolous historical claims, are nothing but the obvious outcomes of the deep-seated Islamophobia in the Indian society.”

Taliban urged India to not allow ‘fanatics’ insult Islam

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan too has joined the row and denounced the words used against the Prophet in “strongest terms”.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan strongly condemns the use of derogatory words against the Prophet of Islam by an official of the ruling party in India,” Zabiullah Mujahid, spokesperson, Taliban government in Afghanistan, said Monday.

He added: “We urge the Indian government not to allow such fanatics to insult the holy religion of Islam and provoke the feelings of Muslims.”

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: Secular Islamophobia: How Modi’s BJP bulldozed rivals’ imagination, left them scared to speak for Muslims


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