Tuesday June 07, 2022

Offensive comment draws flak

Offensive comment draws flak

Supporters of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party shout anti-India slogans against the remarks about the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) during a demonstration in Karachi on Monday. AFP

Arab countries condemned the comment of ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national spokeswoman Nupur Sharma’s offensive remark against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and emphasized the need to promote harmony among people of different faith. Meanwhile, the BJP has suspended Sharma and the party’s media chief in the state of Haryana.

The Arab countries that reacted include the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.

The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFIC) has condemned the statement of the BJP spokesperson “expressing its denunciation and rejection of insults of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).” The statement also affirmed “the UAE’s firm rejection of all practices and behaviours that contradict moral and human values and principles.” And it “underscored the need to respect religious symbols and not violate them, as well as confront hate speech and violence.”

Similarly, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement said, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses its condemnation and denunciation of the statements made by the spokeswoman of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, insulting Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and reaffirms its permanent rejection of prejudice against the symbols of the Islamic religion and refuses to prejudice all religious figures and symbols.” The Saudi Arabian statement also appreciated the action taken by the BJP “also to suspend the spokeswoman, and said that it “also welcomes the action taken by the BJP to suspend the spokeswoman from work, and the ministry reiterates the Kingdom’s position calling for respect for beliefs and religions.”

Qatar demanded a public apology and condemnation of the remarks by the government of India, and said, “Allowing such Islamophobic remarks to continue without punishment constitutes a grave danger to the protection of human rights” and that it will create a cycle of violence and hate.” The Indian ambassador was summoned and handed over the protest letter even as Vice President of India M.Venkaiah Naidu is on a high-profile visit to the country. Kuwait too summoned the Indian ambassador even as there were calls on the social media to boycott Indians goods.

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary General Nayef Falah M Al Hajraf “affirmed his categorical rejection of prejudicing all the prophets and apostles as well as personalities and religious symbols. Stressing the position that rejects provocation, targeting or underestimating beliefs and religions.” And the Jeddah-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said that the BJP spokeswoman’s remarks came in the context of intensifying hatred and abuse toward Islam in India and systematic practices against Muslims.”

Sharma in her Twitter statement said that her remarks were in response to “insults” made against Lord Shiva, and said, “If my words have caused discomfort and, or hurt religious feelings of anyone whatsoever, I hereby unconditionally withdraw my statement.” Meanwhile the Indian embassy in a statement said that “strong action” has been taken against the “fringe elements”.

Apart from Qatar which had demanded a public apology from the government of India, all other Arab governments while condemning the remarks of Nupur Sharma emphasized the need to respect and nurture human and moral values and principles as also of human rights. They also reiterated the importance of respecting personalities and beliefs of religions. The focus was on the need for mutual respect of religions and faiths.

The Arab governments have used the incident to tell the whole world that Islam and Muslims respect other religions and faiths, and that it is necessary for all others to respect Islam. There has been an unfair tendency to portray Islam as an intolerant religion, but the Arab governments made it clear that Muslims respect all other faiths and it is the common basis of all humanity.




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