The Government of India, on Sunday, faced severe heat from the Arab world over BJP party functionaries’ controversial remarks on Prophet Muhammad. The Gulf countries expressed serious dismay over the growing “extremism and hatred” in the country, supposedly signified by the comments of the party members. Reportedly, BJP’s national spokesperson Nupur Sharma was suspended, and Delhi BJP media head Naveen Jindal was sacked by the ruling party, which distanced itself from their controversial remarks.
Qatar welcomed this decision, further seeking a public apology and condemnation from the Indian government. It summoned Indian ambassador Deepak Mittal in light of the comments, and lodged a strong protest. Similar state of affairs transpired in Iran, Kuwait, and a number of other Arab countries that considered the comments as “Islamophobic”, demanding a public apology from New Delhi.
The protests did not stop at this as social media was trending with “Boycott India” hashtags while Indian Vice President Venkaiah Naidu was welcomed in Doha for a four-day visit.
In response, the Indian embassy conveyed to all Arab nations that the comments made by Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal do not subscribe to the views of the Government of India, and that “these are the views of fringe elements”.
Reports of the cancellation of a dinner being hosted by the Deputy Emir of Qatar, Abdullah bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani in honour of Vice President Naidu, raised speculations about the visit. However, they were put to rest immediately after it was clarified that he had come in contact with an individual suspected to be COVID-19 positive.
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemned the remarks made by the BJP members saying that it came in a “context of intensifying hatred and abuse towards Islam in India and systematic practices against Muslims”. The Government of India categorically rejected the OIC’s “unwarranted and narrow-minded comments”, adding that India accords the highest respect to all religions.