Saudi Arabia, Other Gulf States, Muslim Institutions Slam Indian Official’s Insults Against Prophet Muhammad
RIYADH/DOHA: Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries and Muslim institutions on Sunday condemned comments against the Prophet Muhammad made by a senior official in India’s ruling party, with some demanding concrete steps to end such acts of Islamophobia.
Remarks by spokeswoman for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata party last week were blamed for clashes in an Indian state and sparked demands for his arrest, with anger spreading overseas to countries Muslims. Nupur Sharma made the inflammatory remarks during a televised debate on the Prophet Muhammad.
Riyadh called the spokesman’s comments “insulting” and called for “respect for beliefs and religions”.
In denouncing Sharma’s remarks, the Saudi Foreign Ministry said it “reaffirms its permanent rejection of prejudice against symbols of the Islamic religion and refuses to prejudice all religious figures and symbols.”
The ministry also welcomed the BJP’s move to suspend the spokesperson from her job.
Sharma was suspended on Sunday as anger spread overseas in Muslim countries.
Qatar has demanded India apologize for “Islamophobic” comments as Indian Vice President Venkaiah Naidu visited the wealthy Gulf state in a bid to boost trade.
India’s Ambassador to Doha, Deepak Mittal, was dispatched to the Foreign Ministry on the second day of a high-level visit by Naidu and Indian business leaders.
The envoy received an official protest letter stating that “Qatar expects a public apology and immediate condemnation of these remarks from the Indian government,” according to a Foreign Ministry statement.
“Allowing such Islamophobic remarks to continue without sanction constitutes a serious danger for the protection of human rights” and “will create a cycle of violence and hatred”, he added.
Kuwait had also summoned India’s ambassador amid widespread calls on social media for a boycott of Indian goods in the Gulf.
The Jeddah-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said Sharma’s remarks came amid “a backdrop of escalating hatred and abuse of Islam in India and systematic practices against Muslims. “.
The Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) also issued a statement condemning Sharma’s remarks. Secretary General Nayef Falah M. Al Hajraf “affirmed his categorical rejection of harming all prophets and apostles as well as religious figures and symbols, emphasizing the position that rejects provocation, targeting or underestimating beliefs and religion”.
In Cairo, Egypt, Al-Azhar Al-Sharif denounced the behavior of the BJP official as “a real terrorist action which contributes to push the whole world towards devastating crises and bloody wars”. He called on the global community “to firmly ward off such threats”.
Al-Azhar confirmed that the recent use of some politicians to defame Islam to garner the votes of extremists is a blatant call for extremism, spreading hatred and discord among the followers of religions.
“Contrary to the position of the party”
In suspending the spokesperson, India’s ruling party said Sharma had expressed “views contrary to the position of the party”.
Modi’s party, which has often been accused of acting against the country’s Muslim minority, said it “respects all religions”.
Sharma said on Twitter that his comments were a response to “insults” made against the Hindu god Shiva.
“If my words have caused any discomfort or hurt anyone’s religious feelings, I hereby withdraw my statement unconditionally,” she said.
New Delhi had no immediate comment, but its embassy in Doha issued a statement saying “strong action” had been taken against “fringe elements” who had made derogatory remarks. The embassy did not give further details.