Remarks over Prophet Muhammed and Islam: Growing condemnation puts Indian government on massive damage control

Caught in a diplomatic storm and condemnation from various Muslim countries over the remarks made by the Bhartiya Janata Party spokesperson at a TV show, Indian government has resorted to firefighting to control the damage besides distancing itself from the “highly objectionable comments.”

The BJP run Indian government has been caught in this  diplomatic storm  as several Gulf region countries summoned Indian Ambassadors to  their governments’ deep concern about growing “extremism and hatred” the comments signified. 

While the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)  in its  “strong condemnation” of what it called “abuses by an official of the ruling party of India (BJP)”, besides highlighting its previous decisions to ban hijabs at educational institutions in Karnataka and violence against minorities,  India has rejected  it (OIC’s statement). 

Indian diplomacy missions overseas have been repeatedly clarifying that comments made by the BJP spokesperson at a TV show did not reflect the views of the Government of India.

Indian Ambassadors to Qatar and Kuwait were summoned and demand for a public apology by New Delhi was made.

Indian diplomats in Iran and Saudi Arabia too faced the wrath of the Governments. While condemning the comments made by the BJP spokesperson Pakistan went to the extent of accusing India for “persecuting Muslims”.

Retaliating the Pakistan’s accusation, India  came out strongly  to  slam its neighbour  for anti-India tirade. 

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the “absurdity of a serial violator of minority rights commenting on the treatment of minorities in another nation is not lost on anyone.” “The world has been witness to the systemic persecution of minorities including Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Ahmadiyyas by Pakistan,” he said.

“The Government of India accords the highest respect to all religions. This is quite unlike Pakistan where fanatics are eulogized and monuments built in their honour,” Mr. Bagchi said.

“We call on Pakistan to focus on the safety, security and well-being of its minority communities instead of engaging in alarmist propaganda and attempting to foment communal disharmony in India,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Foreign ministry of Bahrain wants all attempts  to provoke religious feelings and incite religious hatred be denounced. It also hailed the Indian ruling party’s decision to  suspend its spokesperson over the “insulting” comments.

 While condemning the comments made by the BJP spokesperson at the TV show, the Taliban regime in Afghanistan has urged the “Indian government not to allow such fanatics to insult the holy religion of Islam and provoke the feelings of Muslims.”

Dr. Nayef Falah M. Al Hajraf, Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has “condemned, rejected and denounced the statements made by the spokesperson of the BJP against the Prophet.

The BJP has already suspended its spokesperson Ms.  Nupur Sharma.  Meanwhile the Delhi unit of BJP has also expelled its media cell head, Mr. Naveen Kumar from the primary membership of the party.

An official statement by the Ministry of External Affairs said that the tweets do not, in any manner, reflect the views of the Government of India. These are the views of fringe elements…. strong action has already been taken against those who made the derogatory remarks.” 

Ms.  Nupur Sharma had made her statements during a TV debate entitled “The Gyanvapi Files” on May 26, on the channel  Times Now. Mr. Naveen Kumar made objectionable tweets on communal lines. The  Times Now has  already distanced itself from what was said by Ms. Sharma on the debate by issuing a public statement.

On Sunday, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) suspended its spokesperson Nupur Sharma and the media cell head of its Delhi unit, Naveen Kumar, from the primary membership of the party after their inflammatory statements on Prophet Muhammed and Islam.

Distancing the party from the statements, BJP general secretary Arun Singh issued  the following statement  without naming either Ms. Nupur Sharma or Mr.  Naveen Kumar: “During the thousands of years of the history of India, every religion has blossomed and flourished. BJP respects all religions. BJP strongly denounces insult of any religious personalities of any religion. The BJP does not promote such people of philosophy,” said the statement released by the party.

Ms. Nupur Sharma, after suspension from the party, also  released her own statement unconditionally withdrawing her remarks made by her on the TV debate. She claimed that her statements were in retaliation to the mocking comments that it was not a Shivling but a fountain (reference to the videographic survey of the Gyanvapi Mosque in May).

“I could not tolerate this continuous insult and disrespect towards our Mahadev and I said some things in response to it. If my words have caused discomfort or hurt feelings of anyone whatsoever, I hereby unconditionally withdraw my statement. It was never my intention to hurt religious feelings,” she said.