Nupur Sharma, the national spokesman for India’s ruling Bharathiya Janatha Party, BJP, and BJP’s Delhi media head Naveen Kumar Jindal have triggered a global controversy following their derogatory remarks on Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
BJP Delhi president Adesh Gupta said Nupur Sharma’s primary membership was immediately terminated and expelled from the party. Naveen Kumar Jindal ws also expelled. After being suspended Nupur Sharma issued an apology and unconditionally withdrew her statement noting that it was never her intention to hurt anyone’s religious feelings.
Hitting out at the BJP, Congress leader P. Chidambaram said it was the international backlash that forced the party to act. “
The action against Sharma came after violence erupted in Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur over her remarks. More than 40 people were injured and over 1,500 people charged in connection with the violence.
Sharma was also named in multiple police cases in Maharashtra over her comment. The Mumbra Police summoned Sharma on June 22 to record her statement over her controversial remarks. In Chennai, Tamilnad, DMK minority wing Tamil Nadu state secretary Dr D. Masthan demanded the arrest of Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal.
One after the other strong protests came from Gulf countries such as Qatar, Kuwait and Iran .Indian ambassadors in these countries were summoned and handed over protest notes expressing their categorical “rejection and condemnation” of the remarks.
The UAE, Oman, Indonesia, Iraq, Maldives, Jordan, Libya and Bahrain have joined the growing list of countries that have condemned the remarks. Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its condemnation and denunciation of the statements made by the spokeswoman of the BJP,”
The 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and Pakistan have also criticized India. The Cairo-based Arab Parliament has strongly condemned and rejected the “irresponsible remarks”.
Qatar said it expected a public apology from 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’s ministry of foreign affairs said
Within India Kerala Chief Minister Pinaravi Vijayan said Rashtriya Swayam sevak Sangh, RSS, brought the country to a “state of embarrassment” and urged the Centre to take action against those “propagating hate”
In his article columnist Vikas Pandey said” critics say Sharma and Jindal’s comments reflect the deep religious polarization that the country has been witnessing over the past few years. Hate speech and attacks against Muslims have risen sharply since the BJP came to power in 2014.
India’s trade with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which includes Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman and the UAE, stood at $87 billion in 2020-21. Millions of Indians live and work in these countries and send millions of dollars in remittances back home. The region is also the top source for India’s energy imports.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been a regular visitor to the region since coming to power in 2014. The country has already signed a free trade agreement with the UAE and is in talks with the GCC for a wider deal. Mr Modi attended the ground-breaking ceremony of the first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi in 2018.
Against this backdrop, the UAE’s decision to join the chorus against India is quite significant. Experts said the controversy could overshadow some of India’s recent diplomatic successes with the UAE and other nations.
While Delhi’s relations with Tehran have been lukewarm over the past few years, the controversy could overshadow Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian’s upcoming visit to India.
“Indian officials often react defensively when foreign capitals, including close friends of New Delhi, criticize Indian domestic matters. But in this case, expect Indian diplomats to work quickly to defuse tensions with apologies and other forms of damage control,” said Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Program at the Wilson Center think-tank.
There have also been reports of some stores in Qatar and Kuwait removing Indian products from their shelves. A sign in Arabic at the Al-Ardiya Co-Operative Society supermarket in Kuwait read: “We have removed Indian products.”
Critics say that religious polarization has increased in India since the BJP came to power. And the past few weeks have been particularly tense after some Hindu groups went to a local court in Varanasi to seek permission to pray at a centuries-old mosque, claiming that it was built on the ruins of a demolished temple.
TV channels have held provocative debates and social media has seen rampant hate over the issue. Many people associated with right-wing organizations often make controversial statements on TV shows, but critics say Nupura Sharma wasn’t a “fringe element” as the BJP has claimed. She was an official spokesperson of the party, tasked with representing the BJP’s views.
Analysts add that the international fallout over the controversy should be a wake-up call for India and it should learn that divisive politics can have international ramifications.
“Delhi is learning that when it comes to the country’s increasingly toxic politics, what happens in India often doesn’t stay in India. As India’s global clout grows and its diplomatic and economic partnerships abroad become stronger, there’s more at stake when its domestic politics cause unhappiness abroad,” Mr. Kugelman said.
Turkey’s state-run news agency TRT World has stated that since Modi came to power in 2014, fanatical Hindu mobs have beaten to death several Muslims and Dalits on suspicion of consuming beef or transporting them.
The TRT report further read, “Extreme right-wing groups have targeted Muslims over love jihad. This is a theory to target Muslims. They were accused of spreading Covid-19. Hindutva-mob… is targeting Muslims who offer Jummah prayers….”
The Turkish news agency further wrote, “During the Hindu festival in early April, pro-Hindu mobs pelted stones at mosques in many areas… the crowd played religious songs in loud voice outside mosques. Hindu saints, known for their anti-Muslim rhetoric, call for caste cleansing of Indian Muslims.”
Al Jazeera said that “this controversy has increased the anger of social media users in Arab countries. People are calling for the boycott of Indian products on social media. Users are condemning the growing hatred against Islam and Muslims and accusing India of following in the footsteps of France and China in promoting Islamophobia,”
Al Jazeera also wrote that in April, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) urged the US State Department to place India on the list of “countries of special concern” for religious freedom for the third year in a row.
Violence against minority Muslims have been daily occurrence in India ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP came to power. BJP thugs were given free hand to beat and batter to death Muslims men, rape Muslim girls and women, chop imamas in the mosques, besides burning Muslim owned business establishments, houses and factories.
All these crimes go unpunished. Shameful state of affairs under Modi’s India has been such that Hindu priests called at a religious gathering to commit genocide of Muslims. These priests remain free.
On top of all the government itself sponsored violence against North East Delhi Muslims in February 2020 reducing to dust the entire Muslim areas .They killed innocent men, women and children and burnt their commercial and residential properties.
Thus the violent campaign against Muslims has been an ongoing affair and Nupur Sharma’s statement on Islam’s beloved Prophet Muhammad is nothing strange.
Even mild pressure from Gulf countries for Prime Minister Modi‘s to stop persecuting Indian Muslims would certainly bring positive results. How the tyrannical regimes are least bothered about that.
In fact Modi himself, as chief minister of Gujarat, was accused of committing genocide of Gujarat Muslims killings around 2500 and destroying their valuable properties. Modi was declared persona non grata by many countries including United States and Europe and there was a travel ban imposed on him. Electing a person with such a criminal background as prime minister it speak volume for fast declining Indian democracy and its moral values.
Hindutva has nothing to do with peaceful Hinduism of Vedas. As the front of RSS, the BJP Hindutva is a fascist ideology thriving on hatred towards Muslims, Christians and Dalit.
It is impossible to understand the logic behind sending a man who committed murder to jail or gallows while a man committed genocide and killed around 2500 being elected as prime minister of India, the largest democracy.
Disclaimer: BJP leaders’ remarks on Prophet Muhammad
Triggered global condemnation from Muslim countries - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view