India rushes to contain outrage after prophet Mohammed’s insulting comments

India rushes to contain outrage after prophet Mohammed’s insulting comments

India rushes to contain outrage after prophet Mohammed’s insulting comments

India is under mounting pressure to take action after comments from top officials of the country’s ruling party sparked anger in the Muslim world, domestic riots and threats from al-Qaida.

Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal, both spokespersons for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party, made speculative comments that were seen as offensive to the Prophet Muhammad and his wife, Aisha.

Sharma, who commented on the Prophet’s private life during a recent TV debate, had filed a complaint against her for “inciting people on the basis of division”, the Delhi police said. Twitter Thursday. Filing a complaint is the first step in any police investigation in India and is usually followed by an interrogation of the accused.

After her TV appearance, Sharma explained on Twitter that her comment about the prophet was in response to “continuous insult and disrespect” towards a Hindu god, and that she had retracted her statement. But she was suspended by the BJP that day anyway.

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Protesters burn a photo of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Pakistani city of Karachi on Monday. Arif Ali / AFP via Getty Images

Jindal, who was also expelled from the party on Sunday for making comments about Islam on social media, said on Twitter that he was not against any religion.

But their comments had already sparked blasphemy charges in some Middle Eastern countries, leaving New Delhi struggling to contain the fallout.

As calls for a boycott of Indian goods surfaced on social media, several countries — including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar — filed official protests against India.

And after a letter attributed to Al-Qaeda warning of Islamist attacks to avenge the comments was circulated to Indian media groups earlier this week, the government tightened public security.

Protests were also held in several major cities this week, including Mumbai, Kolkata and Ahmedabad.

After several days of protests against the comments, thousands of Islamists from the Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan party also marched on Thursday and briefly clashed with police in the Pakistani capital Islamabad.

If countries like Saudi Arabia were to cut ties with India, “it would undoubtedly jeopardize the crucial influx of foreign capital,” Taushif Kara, a research associate at Britain’s University of Cambridge, told NBC News in an email on Thursday. .

India’s trade with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which includes Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman and the UAE, was about $90 billion in 2020-21. Millions of Indians live and work in the GCC countries and New Delhi also depends on the oil-rich Arab Gulf states to power its energy-thirsty economy.

India’s foreign ministry said the abusive tweets and comments in no way reflected the government’s views.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Inaugurates 'Iconic Week' Celebrations, lLunch Jan Samarth Portal
Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi in New Delhi, India on Monday. Sonu Mehta / Hindustan Times via Getty Images

But under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rule, India’s 200 million Muslims “have been systematically targeted and are now increasingly portrayed by the BJP as an existential threat to the nation,” Kara said.

“This is not only the continued persecution of a minority, but a radical rethinking of the very idea of ​​India,” he added.

Rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also accused Modi’s party of looking the other way, allowing at times hate speech against Muslims, who make up 14 percent of India’s 1.4 billion people.

The State Department claimed in its annual report to Congress on International Religious Freedom, released in June, that attacks on members of minority communities, including murders, assaults and intimidation, had been committed in India in 2021.

Modi’s BJP party denies the allegations and, as it struggles to stem the condemnation abroad, it also faces anger from some of its own supporters for another reason. Many Hindu nationalists posted comments in support of the spokespersons on social media, saying the government was collapsing under international pressure.

Reuters and Associated Press contributed