Bengaluru: Bengaluru South MP Tejasvi Surya has landed in a row for a tweet he had posted in 2015 with an “objectionable” comment about Arab women. The tweet was highlighted by various prominent citizens of Arab nations Sunday, following which the BJP MP deleted it.
Among the first to call out Surya was Dubai-based businesswoman Noora AlGhurair, who said she “pitied his upbringing that has taught him to disrespect women”. She also warned him against “travelling to Arab lands if he is ever bestowed a foreign ministry”.
Pity Ur upbringing @Tejasvi_Surya that respect for women couldn’t be instilled in U despite India having some great female leaders .Please note if someday the govt bestows a foreign ministry to you, avoid travelling to Arab lands. You are not welcome here. This will be remembered pic.twitter.com/KJJlqJL5tR
— Noora AlGhurair (@AlGhurair98) April 19, 2020
It was soon picked up by other prominent Arab Twitter handles, some of whom tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
@PMOIndia Respected Prime minister @narendramodi India's relation with the Arab world has been that of mutual respect. Do you allow your parliamentarian to publicly humiliate our women? We expect your urgent punitive action against @Tejasvi_Surya for his disgraceful comment. pic.twitter.com/emymJrc5aU
— المحامي⚖مجبل الشريكة (@MJALSHRIKA) April 19, 2020
The tweet had earlier been circulated on social media when Surya contested the Lok Sabha elections in 2019 but it did not gain much traction then. The issue snowballed after AlGhurair, who has been very vocal about the way Muslims are being treated in India, highlighted it once again.
Several prominent social media handles in the Arab nations have been of late calling out “ill-treatment” of Muslims in India.
The Surya controversy comes on the back of Princess Hend Al Qassimi, a member of the royal family of United Arab Emirates, warning that Indians who work in the UAE and post ‘Islamophobic’ content on social media will be deported.
A number of Indians working in the Middle East have already been sacked in the recent past for objectionable social media posts.
ThePrint tried to reach out to Surya for his comment on the controversy but all the calls went unanswered. This report will be updated when he responds.
Past controversies involving MP Surya
The BJP MP had been called out for the same tweet in 2015 too. Among those who had slammed him back then was Karnataka Congress leader Y.B. Srivatsa, who had called it “cheap”.
“He (Surya) used to put out a lot of such comments claiming they are quotes of others. When I called him out then, he claimed he was merely quoting Tarek Fatah, a Pakistani-Canadian journalist-author,” Srivatsa told ThePrint.
“It is his way to push his type of ideology but the fact that he tweeted it only means Surya endorses what Fatah has said.”
Srivatsa added that such tweets could cause problems to Indians working in the Middle East as there “are several young Surya followers who have been posting venomous comments against Arabs while working in the Emirates”.
“Old utterances are also being culled out and that is how Surya’s sexist comments came to light,” the Congress leader said. “While it shows how people of the Sangh Parivar view such things, it will also cause problems to Indians living in the Middle East.”
BJP MP Shobha Karandlaje was also of the same opinion. “Indians work all across the world. As responsible citizens, we should ensure we do not make comments that can hurt or affect our fellow Indians,” she told ThePrint.
Handpicked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to contest from Bengaluru South, Surya has landed in trouble several times for his tweets. He once posted that he “dreads” the day when women reservation will become a reality. Surya deleted a tweet within 24 hours of being named as the BJP candidate in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
“With the exception of Womens’ Reservation in Parliament, Modi govt agenda is inspiring. Dread d day when women’s reservation becomes reality,” he had said in the now-deleted tweet.