In Gulf Fury vs India, "Fringe Elements" Defence, Cancelled Dinner In Qatar

Three Islamic nations summoned Indian envoys over comments made by the BJP's national spokesperson Nupur Sharma during a TV debate last week

In Gulf Fury vs India, 'Fringe Elements' Defence, Cancelled Dinner In Qatar

The backlash has erupted over comments made by BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma during a TV debate

New Delhi:

Tackling a huge backlash in the Gulf over comments against Prophet Muhammad by two BJP leaders - one has since been suspended and the other expelled - the government has called them "views of fringe elements".

Three Islamic nations summoned Indian envoys over the comments made by the BJP's national spokesperson Nupur Sharma during a TV debate last week in the backdrop of a series of communal incidents across the country. A second leader, Naveen Jindal, posted a tweet about the Prophet, which he later deleted amid escalating outrage.

In Qatar, Ambassador Deepak Mittal said the comments "do not, in any manner, reflect the views of the Government of India. These are the views of fringe elements."

Mr Mittal was summoned by Qatar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which said it was "expecting a public apology and immediate condemnation of these remarks from the Government of India".

"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," Qatar said.

The controversy exploded as Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu arrived in Qatar on a state visit.

A dinner to be hosted by Qatar's Deputy Emir for Vice-President Naidu was cancelled, but reportedly on health grounds. It was learnt that the Deputy Emir had a suspected Covid exposure, and this was communicated to India before Vice-President Naidu reached Doha.

In Kuwait, the Indian embassy said in a similar statement that the Ambassador had a meeting with the foreign office where "concerns were raised with regard to some offensive tweets by individuals in India".

"Ambassador conveyed 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".

In Iran, news channel Iran international English reported that after receiving the "Iranian nation and government's protest over the insulting remarks," the Indian ambassador to Tehran said the offender had no position in the government and has even been dismissed from his party after making those remarks".

This morning, the Ministry of External Affairs reacted sharply to a statement by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), saying the comments were made by "certain individuals" and did not reflect the government's views.

"The government of India categorically rejects OIC Secretariat's unwarranted and narrow-minded comments. The government of India accords the highest respect to all religious. The offensive tweets and comments denigrating a religious personality were made by certain individuals. They do not, in any manner, reflect the views of the government of India. Strong action has already been taken against these individuals by relevant bodies," said foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi.

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