Gulf Nations Summon India's Envoys as Massive Outrage Erupts Over Alleged Anti-Islam Remarks
10:56 GMT 06.06.2022 (Updated: 10:44 GMT 19.07.2022)
© AP Photo / Ajit SolankiAn Indian Muslim man reads the holy Quran at Jami Masjid after Friday prayers in Ahmadabad, India, Friday, June 26, 2015
© AP Photo / Ajit Solanki
Earlier, a spokespersons of India's ruling BJP had made controversial remarks perceived by some as targeting the Prophet Muhammad during debates over an ongoing dispute related to a centuries-old mosque in Varanasi city in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have joined Iran, Qatar, and Kuwait, which summoned their Indian envoys in the last 24 hours, to denounce "blasphemous" remarks made by the party spokesperson of India's ruling BJP against Prophet Muhammad.
Riyadh described BJP's firebrand spokesperson Nupur Sharma's comments as "insulting" and called for "respect for beliefs and religions".
In denouncing Sharma's remarks, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it "reaffirms its permanent rejection of prejudice against the symbols of the Islamic religion and refuses to prejudice all religious figures and symbols".
Bahrain has also condemned the statement, asking New Delhi to confront "extremist ideas that feed sedition and religious, sectarian or racial hatred".
On Sunday, India's close West Asian allies Qatar, Kuwait, and Iran summoned Indian envoys after "boycott India" trends topped social media in at least 11 Gulf nations.
Some of the unverified social media posts showed the removal of Indian products from supermarkets in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab of Emirates, Oman, and others.
Qatar demanded a public apology from India on the day when Vice President Venkaiah Naidu held bilateral talks with Qatari leaders and addressed business leaders to boost bilateral trade.
For their part, Indian embassies in Doha, Kuwait, and Tehran expressed regret over the issue and distanced themselves from "unacceptable" remarks made by "fringe elements".
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) – an intergovernmental organisation representing over 1.8 billion people – also denounced the "insult" made by BJP spokeswoman Nupur Sharma, whom the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sacked on Sunday.
The outrage started across the Gulf days after the BJP spokeswoman's remarks, made during a television debate over a mosque built by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, which was allegedly erected on the site of a demolished Hindu temple.
During a discussion broadcast on Times Now on 26 May, Nupur Sharma said, "Prophet Mohammad married a six-year-old girl and then had sex with her at the age of nine."
She also reportedly mocked the Quran during the debate.
Naveen Kumar Jindal, media head of the BJP's Delhi Unit, also echoed the view expressed by Sharma against Prophet Muhammad.
Responding to the outrage and action taken by the BJP, Sharma clarified that she'd made such remarks in response to "insulting" comments made about "Mahadev" (Hindu God Shiva).
Though she denied to have intended "to hurt anyone's religious feelings", Sharma said she wanted to withdraw her statement unconditionally.
The heated discussions on Indian televisions started in May after a survey on the direction of a court allegedly found a Hindu sculpture (believed by some Hindus to be linked to Lord Shiva) inside the 17th century mosque in Varanasi, a city in Uttar Pradesh state.
Muslims, however, claim that the structure inside the mosque was nothing but a water fountain.
Hindus and Muslims are fighting the dispute in a court.