The Islamic world is enraged over blasphemous remarks by two leaders of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) against the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

President Dr Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif have strongly condemned BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma and Delhi BJP medial head Naveen Kumar Jindal for their remarks.

President Alvi said such comments were the reflection of a growing trend of Islamophobia in India, which is home to millions of Muslims.

The president said that merely suspending and expelling party officials was not enough and the BJP must shun and denounce its extremist and fascist Hindutva ideology.

He said that India, under Modi’s hateful Hindutva philosophy, was trampling the religious freedoms of all its minorities and persecuting them without any impunity.

“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 marginalisation, which will create a cycle of violence and hate,” he added.

He called upon the world community, United Nations and international human rights organisations to take serious notice of rising Islamophobia and systematic religious persecution in India without impunity and take all steps necessary to put an end to it.

“I condemn in the strongest possible words hurtful comments of India’s BJP leader about our beloved Prophet (PBUH). [I have] said it repeatedly India under Modi is trampling religious freedoms and persecuting Muslims. The world should take note and severely reprimand India,” Prime Minister Shehbaz said in a tweet on Sunday.

“Our love for the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is supreme. All Muslims can sacrifice their life for the love and respect of their Holy Prophet (PBUH),” he said.

FOREIGN OFFICE: The spokesperson said in a statement on Sunday that Pakistan condemned in the strongest possible terms the highly derogatory remarks made by two senior BJP officials.

“BJP’s attempted clarification and belated and perfunctory disciplinary action against these individuals cannot assuage the pain and anguish they have caused to the Muslim world,” he said. “Muslims residing in India are equally outraged by the completely repugnant comments by the two BJP officials. The ensuing communal violence in Kanpur and in other parts of India bears testimony to this fact.”

He said Pakistan was also deeply concerned at the alarming rise in communal violence and hatred directed against the Muslims in India.

Muslims in India were being systematically stigmatised, marginalised and subjected to a well-orchestrated onslaught from radical Hindu mobs with full connivance and support of the security apparatus across various states in India. Regrettably, the Indian state machinery had remained aloof to the desperate calls for assistance by the local Muslim communities across the country, he said.

Reprehensibly, it had become a norm in India to deprive the Muslims of their right to live and freely practise their religion, he said.

Pakistan urges India to ensure that decisive and demonstrable action is taken against those responsible for making derogatory remarks and attacking the dignity of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). India must also take immediate steps to protect its minorities from human rights violations, ensure their safety, security and well-being and allow them to profess and practise their faiths in peace.

“Pakistan once again calls on the international community to take immediate cognisance of the grievously aggravating situation of Islamophobia in India. India must be held accountable for stifling the rights of the minorities, especially Muslims, to practice their faith and religious beliefs,” the spokesperson said.

“The international community must dissuade India from its reprehensible campaign of ‘saffronisation’ and ensure that Muslims are not victimised for having different religious beliefs than the majority population. The world must intervene to protect the Muslims in India from an impending genocide at the hands of Hindutva-inspired Hindu zealots, emboldened by the BJP-RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] dispensation at the helm.”

IMRAN KHAN: Former premier and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan while condemning India asked the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to take strong action against India because “sadly so far India has been allowed to get away with its Islamophobic policies”.

GULF COUNTRIES: As the controversy surrounding two BJP spokespersons’ contentious remarks against Prophet Mohammed snowballed, and after Qatar condemned the party, three other Gulf countries — Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia — have followed suit. The three countries slammed the move and issued summons to the Indian envoys regarding the issue on Sunday.

Seeking to defuse a diplomatic row, spokespersons of the Indian Embassy in Qatar and Kuwait said that the ambassadors “conveyed that the tweets do not, in any manner, reflect the views of the government of India. These are the views of fringe elements.”

The national party on Sunday suspended its national spokesperson Nupur Sharma and expelled its Delhi media head Naveen Kumar Jindal, after their controversial remarks against the Prophet, as it sought to defuse a row over the issue. Amid protests by Muslim groups over the remarks, the party also issued a statement aimed at assuaging the concerns of minorities and distancing itself from these members, asserting that it “respects all religions” and “strongly denounces the insult of any religious personality”. The controversial remarks also sparked calls for the economic boycott of Indian products in these countries, and hashtags against PM Modi were trending there.

The Indian Embassy spokesperson said that Indian Ambassador to Qatar, Deepak Mittal, had a meeting in the Foreign Office during which concerns were raised with regard to the BJP spokespersons’ remarks and tweets, denigrating the Prophet.

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu is currently visiting Qatar, and on Sunday, he met Qatar’s Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani there. Earlier, Soltan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Qatar, handed the note to the Ambassador of the Republic of India, the ministry said in a statement.

The Indian Embassy spokesperson responded that “strong action” has been taken against those who made the derogatory remarks. He also said that “vested interests”, which are against India-Qatar relations, have been inciting the people using these derogatory comments.

Meanwhile, the Kuwait Foreign Ministry said that the Indian Ambassador to Kuwait, Sibi George, was on Sunday summoned and handed over an official protest note by the Assistant Secretary of State for Asia Affairs. The note expresses Kuwait’s “categorical rejection and condemnation” of the statements issued by an official of the ruling party against the Prophet. The ministry welcomed the statement issued by the ruling party in India, in which it announced the suspension of the leader.

In Tehran, Indian Ambassador to Iran Dhamu Gaddam was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the Director General of South Asia on Sunday evening where a strong protest was registered by the Islamic Republic of Iran over the controversial remarks by the ruling party leader on against the Prophet, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported. The Indian Ambassador expressed regret and called any insult to the Prophet of Islam unacceptable, it added.

Qatar Foreign Ministry in its statement said 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 marginalisation, which will “create a cycle of violence and hate”.

The note indicated that more than two billion Muslims across the world follow the guidance of Prophet Mohammed, whose message came as one of “peace, understanding and tolerance, and a beacon of light that Muslims all over the world follow”.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has also condemned the remarks by Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal. It welcomed the BJP’s move to suspend them, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs there “reaffirming its permanent rejection of prejudice against the symbols of the Islamic religion, alongside all religious figures and symbols.

Nupur Sharma’s contentious remarks were made during a TV news debate on Times Now, on the discovery of a shivling-like structure in Varanasi’s Gyanvapi mosque earlier in May. Nupur had said that Muslims were mocking Hindus for calling the figure a ‘shivling’ even though it was later reportedly found to be a fountain. She added that she can mock things in the Quran as well, and went on to make a comment about Prophet Muhammed.

Along with Sharma, the party also suspended industrialist and former BJP legislator Naveen Jindal, who had drawn flak for a June 1 tweet in which he questioned Prophet Mohammed’s marriage to Aisha.

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