New Delhi: More condemnation from the Gulf countries followed over controversial statements on Prophet Mohammad made by some BJP functionaries, with Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo issuing statements, a day after Kuwait, Iran and Qatar summoned the respective Indian envoys to hand over protest notes.
The Kingdom of Bahrain in a statement said they welcome the Bharatiya Janata Party’s decision to suspend its spokeswoman due to insulting remarks against the Holy Prophet.
The Bahrain Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed the importance of respecting all religious beliefs, symbols, and personalities, and the concerted efforts of the international community to spread the values of moderation, tolerance, and dialogue between religions and civilizations, and to confront extremist ideas that feed sedition and religious, sectarian, or racial hatred, it said.
Saudi Arabia condemned the statements of the spokesperson of the BJP insulting Prophet Muhammad and “reiterated its permanent rejection of any insult to the symbols of the Islamic religion. It also rejected anything that is offensive to all religious figures and symbols”.
While welcoming the measures taken by the BJP to suspend the spokeswoman, the ministry reaffirmed the Kingdom’s position of showing respect to all religions and faiths, it said.
The Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo expressed its strong condemnation and denunciation of the statements made by the spokesperson of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, insulting Prophet Mohammed.
In a statement, Al-Azhar described such behavior “as a real terrorist action that helps to push the entire world to devastating crises and bloody wars, calling on the world community to firmly ward off such threats”.
Al-Azhar said “the recent resort of some politicians to defame Islam to collect votes of extremists is a blatant call for extremism, spread of hatred and discord among followers of religions”, it said.
Dr. Nayef Falah Mubarak Al-Hajraf, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), expressed strong condemnation and denunciation of the statements made by the spokesperson of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, insulting Prophet Mohammed, and reaffirmed the GCC’s permanent rejection of prejudice against the symbols of the Islamic religion and refusal to prejudice all religious figures and symbols.
On Sunday, Qatar, Iran and Kuwait summoned the respective Indian ambassadors resident in their capitals to protest the controversial remarks on Prophet Mohammad.
The Pakistan Foreign Office too condemned the remarks.
Even as Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu is visiting Qatar, the Qatari Foreign Ministry summoned Indian envoy Deepak Mittal to protest the remarks.
The Indian ambassador conveyed that the tweets by the now-suspended BJP functionary “do not, in any manner, reflect the views of the Government of India, and these are the views of fringe elements.”
The Iranian Foreign Ministry’s Director General for South Asia summoned the Indian ambassador Gaddam Dharmendra to protest “an insult by a TV program in India to the Prophet Muhammad”.
The Kuwait Foreign Ministry in a statement said that it summoned the Indian Ambassador Sibi George where he met the Assistant Foreign Minister for Asian Affairs, who handed him “an official protest note expressing the State of Kuwait’s categorical rejection and denunciation of the offensive statements of the Holy Prophet, and Islam and Muslims, which were issued by Officials in the ruling party”.
Kuwait said that while it welcomes the statement issued by the BJP, announcing the suspension of the BJP officials, it demanded “a public apology for those hostile statements”.
Qatar too said that it welcomes the statement by India’s ruling party announcing suspension of the functionary, but added that it “is expecting a public apology and immediate condemnation of these remarks from the Government of India”.
Meanwhile, Delhi BJP media cell head Naveen Kumar Jindal’s tweet against Prophet Mohammed caused wide discontent in the Arab world with hashtags calling for boycott of India products trending on Twitter.
Twitters users across Gulf reacted with anger causing Jindal to delete the tweet and state that his remarks were not aimed at hurting the religious sentiments of any community.
Jindal tweeted in Hindi that his intent was not to demean any faith, “We respect the faith of all religions but the question was only for those mindsets that spread hatred by using indecent comments about our deities. I just asked them a question. It does not mean that we are against any religion.”
One of the top trending hashtags on Twitter in Middle Eastern countries such as Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Egypt referred to the matter. The hashtag was widely shared along with calls for boycotting India and Indian products.
On Twitter many people denounced the escalation of hatred against Islam and Muslims in India, saying that it is following in the footsteps of France and China in promoting Islamophobia and hostility.
Delhi BJP unit president Adesh Gupta expelled Jindal for allegedly expressing views on social media that vitiate communal harmony.
Gupta added that Jindal’s primary membership from the party was terminated with immediate effect.
The BJP also suspended spokesperson Nupur Sharma for her controversial remarks made during a TV debate.
The Pakistan Foreign Office in a statement “strongly condemned and rejected the totally unacceptable derogatory remarks by BJP officials about Holy Prophet Muhammad. This has deeply hurt sentiments of Muslims in Pakistan, India & across the world.”
It said “BJP’s attempted clarification and belated and perfunctory disciplinary action against these individuals cannot assuage the pain and anguish they have caused to the Muslim world.”