The BJP spokesperson’s comments about Prophet Mohammad sparked widespread criticism among officials of Muslim countries, leading to the spokesman’s suspension.
In a televised debate last week, the BJP’s spokesperson Nupur Sharma made insulting comments about the Prophet of Islam. The move then sparked huge protests in Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur the following day.
But that was not the end of the story of reactions to this act of Islamophobia. Several Muslim countries also rebuked the controversial comments one after another, with some of them even summoning the Indian envoys to their countries.
Describing the spokesperson’s comments as “insulting”, Saudi Arabia criticized the comments and called for “respect for beliefs and religions.”
In a statement this Sunday, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it “reaffirms its permanent rejection of prejudice against the symbols of the Islamic religion and refuses to prejudice all religious figures and symbols.”
Qatar also denounced the “Islamophobic” comments and called on India to apologize. Qatar’s foreign ministry even summoned India’s ambassador in Doha, Deepak Mittal, to explain the matter. The envoy was handed an official protest letter that said “Qatar is expecting a public apology and immediate condemnation of these remarks from the government of India.” Qatar’s foreign ministry also said in a statement that “allowing such Islamophobic remarks to continue without punishment constitutes a grave danger to the protection of human rights” and “will create a cycle of violence and hate,” Kuwait also did the same and summoned India’s ambassador.
Regional organizations such as the Jeddah-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said Sharma’s remarks came in a “context of intensifying hatred and abuse toward Islam in India and systematic practices against Muslims.”
Likewise, the secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) issued a statement condemning Sharma’s remarks. Secretary-General Nayef Falah M. Al Hajraf “affirmed his categorical rejection of prejudicing all the prophets and apostles as well as personalities and religious symbols, stressing the position that rejects provocation, targeting or underestimating beliefs and religions.”
In Cairo, Egypt, Al-Azhar Al-Sharif denounced the BJP official’s behavior as “a real terrorist action that helps to push the entire world to devastating crises and bloody wars.” It called on the world community “to firmly ward off such threats.”
Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Indian ambassador Sunday to protest the remarks against Prophet Muhammad, deemed sacrilegious by Muslims. Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also summoned Indian chargé d’affaires in Islamabad to express criticism over the Islamophobic remarks in India.
Not in line with the Party’s position
In suspending the spokesperson, India’s ruling party said Sharma had expressed “views contrary to the party’s position.”
In a press statement, BJP national general secretary, Arun Singh said, “During the thousands of years of the history of India every religion has blossomed and flourished. The Bharatiya Janata Party respects all religions. The BJP strongly denounces insults of any religious personality of any religion. The Bharatiya Janata Party is also strongly against any ideology which insults or demeans any sect or religion. The BJP does not promote such people or philosophy.”
The Indian Embassy in UAE also expressed regret over the comments and retweeted a BJP statement, “BJP respects all religions, strongly denounces insult of any religious personality of any religion: Party statement.”
Sharma herself also expressed her regret on Twitter and said her comments had been in response to “insults” made against the Hindu god Shiva.
“If my words have caused discomfort or hurt religious feelings of anyone whatsoever, I hereby unconditionally withdraw my statement,” she said. Since coming to power, Modi’s party has frequently been accused of acting against the country’s Muslim minority.