India’s right-wing government of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is under pressure after the derogatory comments made by party’s top leaders against Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
After massive protests on social media platforms went viral, the BJP was forced to expel its spokespersons Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal from the primary membership of the party. The face saving move by New Delhi came after a call for boycotting India and its products in Arab countries, particularly in the Gulf which hosts the majority of Indian expatriates.
At least five Arab nations including Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have officially protested over remarks by top officials of India’s ruling BJP. The foreign ministry officials of three countries summoned Indian ambassadors to express their strongest protest and denunciation. It is noteworthy that Qatar’s denunciation came during the visit of India’s Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu. Qatar even cancelled Nadiu’s scheduled meeting with the Deputy Amir on Sunday.
Iran also lodged complaints with India while Pakistan and Afghanistan also reacted strongly. The Jeddha-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said the remarks came in a “context of intensifying hatred and abuse towards Islam in India and systematic practices against Muslims.”
Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Indian Ambassador Dr. Deepak Mittal, and handed him an official note expressing the disappointment of Qatar and its total rejection and condemnation to the controversial remarks made by officials of the BJP against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Islam and Muslims.
The official condemnation note handed by Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Soltan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi, to Indian envoy said the State of Qatar is expecting a public apology and immediate condemnation of these remarks from the Government of India, pointing out that allowing such Islamophobic remarks to continue without punishment, constitutes a grave danger to the protection of human rights and may lead to further prejudice and marginalisation, which will create a cycle of violence and hate.
The note indicated that over two billion Muslims across the world follow the guidance of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), who came as a messenger of peace, understanding and tolerance, and a beacon of light that Muslims all over the world follow.
Kuwait’s Foreign Ministry said it had summoned the Ambassador of India and handed him a protest note in which it completely “rejects and denounces the statements made by an official in the ruling party against the holy Prophet”.
Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has summoned Indian ambassador to Tehran Gaddam Dhamendra over what state media called "insult against Prophet of Islam in an Indian TV show". The Indian envoy expressed regret and said any insult against Prophet of Islam is unacceptable and this doesn't reflect the position of Indian government.
The BJP’s action against its official spokesperson is being viewed as a face saving exercise since its senior leadership, including Prime Minister Modi, has failed to condemn the remarks until today. It is not a secret that the BJP and its allies in the vast Sangh Parivar group are subscribing the same view against Islam and its Prophet.
India's opposition Congress party trashed the BJP statement, saying it is "nothing but a blatantly counterfeit pretence, which is evidently farce and another sham attempt at damage control".
BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma first made the controversial remarks during a television channel debate in Times Now channel on the claim by Hindutva forces on the sixteenth century Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, on May 26. Naveen Kumar Jindal, Delhi BJP media cell head, also came out with a derogatory statement against the Prophet in his tweet on June 1.
The Times Now released a press note saying that the views expressed by the BJP Spokesperson on its News hour programme were her personal and the channel does not endorse views of participants.
However, the video clearly shows that when the BJP leader was making a derogatory statement against the Prophet, the anchor, Navika Kumar, who is also the Editor-in-chief of the channel, was neither intervening nor asking the BJP panelist to stop.
Violence broke out in Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur city on Friday during a shutdown called by Muslims against the controversial comments made about the Prophet. While some young men started sloganeering, another group opposed it and it escalated to stone-pelting. However, police filed cases against Muslims only.
Narendra Modi and his BJP have been pursuing a Hindu majoritarian, anti-Muslim agenda that threatens India’s status as an officially secular republic and violates international human rights norms.
Indian government’s anti-Muslim bias is not new. The controversial citizenship law which is discriminatory against Muslims, the decision to ban hijab at educational institutions in several states, move to confiscate centuries old mosques and the destruction of Muslim property are some of the actions taken by the Modi regime.
Since Narendra Modi first took office, BJP leaders have repeatedly made anti-Muslim remarks in their speeches and interviews. These have encouraged and even incited violent attacks by party supporters who believe they have political protection and approval.
A sixteenth century mosque in Varanasi in the Uttar Pradesh state has emerged as the latest flash point in the escalating struggle between India’s Hindu nationalists and its Muslim minority after a controversial court survey claimed to find the relic of a Hindu deity on its premises.
The lawyers representing Hindus claimed that a Shivling (symbol of deity Shiva) was found during the videography survey of the Gyanvapi mosque, which was disputed by the mosque authorities who said the object was part of a stone fountain in the ablution tank of the mosque.
The Gyanvapi mosque stands next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple. The Hindutva outfits have unleashed a propaganda that the mosque was built on the ruins of the temple after it was partially destroyed in 1669 on the orders of Aurangzeb, the sixth Mughal emperor.
The Gyanvapi is one of the three historical mosques the Hindutva militants wanted to 'liberate' along with Ayodhya’s Babri Masjid and the Shahi Idgah in Mathura, all in Uttar Pradesh state ruled by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP, which is part of Sangh Parivar.
Islamophobic elements in India are not limited to Hindutva forces. Some Christian groups, particularly those in the southern Indian state of Kerala, have been waging a notorious campaign against Muslim community with full backing of the RSS and other militant Hindutva outfits. These groups have used the terms such as ‘love jihad’ ‘halal jihad’ and ‘narcotic jihad’ to malign Muslims.
Starting their campaign through social media platforms, they are now openly spitting venom against the Prophet (PBUH) and Muslims. Because of their deep alliance with the Sangh Parivar, they are even called ‘Chrisanghis’ or Christian Sangh Parivar.
Muslim organisations are aware of the communal agenda of the government and some communal elements to create a rift in the society. Solidarity Youth Movement, affiliated to India's Islamic movement, the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH), has organised a caravan recently as part of its conference and urged for legislation to prevent Islamophobia in India.
JIH Secretary-General of T Arif Ali, while inaugurating the conference, said that the total extermination of the Muslim community in India is nothing but a daydream of the Sangh Parivar.
P. K. Niaz is a Senior Editor of The Peninsula Newspaper, Doha, Qatar.
Spokesperson for Ministry of Foreign Affairs @majedalansari : Qatar Demands Public Apology from Indian Government for Remarks of Official in Ruling Party Against Prophet Mohammed#MOFAQatar pic.twitter.com/NnN1khKw6X
— Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Qatar (@MofaQatar_EN) June 5, 2022
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Summons the Indian Ambassador and Hands Him an Official Note on Qatar’s Total Rejection and Condemnation of the Remarks of an Official in the Ruling Party in India Against Prophet Mohammed#MOFAQatar pic.twitter.com/rp7kMnWXdu
— Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Qatar (@MofaQatar_EN) June 5, 2022