Saudi Arabia described BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s comments as “insulting” and called for “respect for beliefs and religions”, according to a foreign ministry statement.
Riyadh is the latest to condemn the remarks. Qatar, Kuwait and Iran summoned the Indian envoy on Sunday amid widespread calls on social media for a boycott of Indian goods in the Gulf.
Indian envoy in Doha was summoned by the foreign ministry and handed an official protest letter which said “Qatar is expecting a public apology and immediate condemnation of these remarks from the government of India”. Qatar’s condemnation came amid Vice President Venkaiah Naidu’s high-profile tour of the wealthy Gulf state along with Indian business leaders to boost trade.
Neighbouring Kuwait, like Qatar, summoned India’s ambassador, and demanded a “public apology for these hostile statements, the continuation of which would constitute a deterrent measure or punishment to increase extremism and hatred and undermine the elements of moderation”.
News channel in Iran reported that Tehran called “insult against Prophet of Islam in an Indian TV show”. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), based in the Saudi city of Jeddah, also condemned the remarks.
India has said that the remarks were made by “fringe elements” and did not reflect the government’s opinion. It has also highlighted that the ruling BJP has taken action against the leaders — one of whom was the party’s national spokesperson and the other its media chief. The decision was welcomed by Bahrain, its foreign ministry said on Twitter.
The comments were made by BJP national spokesperson Nupur Sharma during a TV debate last week against the backdrop of a series of communal incidents across the country. BJP media chief Naveen Jindal posted a tweet about the Prophet, which he later deleted.
Following Nupur Sharma’s comments, trouble spiked in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh where 40 people were injured in Kanpur when two groups clashed after Friday prayers.
In a statement on Sunday, the BJP said it is “strongly against any ideology which insults or demeans any sect or religion” and “does not promote such people or philosophy”.
The Congress trashed the BJP statement, saying it is “nothing but a blatantly counterfeit pretense, which is evidently farce and another sham attempt at damage control”. Taking to Twitter, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor tagged a post which said that supermarkets in Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain removed Indian products after insulting remarks were made by ruling party leaders.