Two BJP leaders' comments on Prophet Muhammad have unleashed a backlash in Islamic nations, with Qatar, Kuwait and Iran summoning the Indian envoy today. On social media there have been calls to ban Indian products.
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Qatar told India envoy Deepak Mittal 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 marginalization, which will create a cycle of violence and hate".
Kuwait demanded a "public apology for these hostile statements, the continuation of which would constitute a deterrent measure or punishment to increase extremism and hatred and undermine the elements of moderation".
News channel Iran International English reported that Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Indian ambassador to Tehran over what the state media called "insult against Prophet of Islam in an Indian TV show".
To diffuse the crisis, India has said that the remarks were made by "fringe elements" and did not reflect the government's opinion. It has also highlighted that the ruling BJP has taken action against the leaders -- one of whom was the party's national spokesperson and the other its media chief.
Qatar's condemnation came amid the visit of Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu who met Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani today.
Last week, in the backdrop of a series of communal incidents across the country, BJP national spokesperson Nupur Sharma made a comment during a TV debate purportedly insulting the Prophet. Naveen Jindal posted a tweet about the Prophet, which he later deleted.
The BJP expelled Naveen Jindal and suspended Nupur Sharma, who withdrew their comments after the party action.
The trouble spiked in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh. Forty people were injured in Kanpur when two groups clashed after Friday prayers.
In a statement today, the BJP said it is "strongly against any ideology which insults or demeans any sect or religion" and "does not promote such people or philosophy".
The Congress trashed the BJP statement, saying it is "nothing but a blatantly counterfeit pretense, which is evidently farce and another sham attempt at damage control".