Diplomatic storm over BJP leaders’ remarks about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) giving India ‘big headache’: US-based magazine

Diplomatic storm over BJP leaders' remarks about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) giving India 'big headache': US-based magazine

NEW YORK, Jun 12 (APP): The international furor sparked off by the derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) made by two senior Indian ruling party leaders have created a “big headache” for India, according to The Diplomat, an online international magazine based in Washington.

Noting that the offensive remarks led to widespread domestic protests in India, the magazine said in a dispatch that on international level, a number of Muslim countries, including Pakistan, Qatar, Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Afghanistan, Indonesia and Malaysia are infuriated.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had condemned the “hurtful” remarks by two BJP leader, saying that Prime Minister Narenda Modi’s government was trampling religious freedom and especially the rights of Muslims, as he urged the world to “take note and severely reprimand India.”

The Pakistan Foreign office followed up and summoned the senior Indian diplomat in Islamabad to convey its categorical rejection and condemnation of the offensive remarks by the two BJP leaders against Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).

The Diplomat, in its dispatch, especially cited the example of the Qatari government, which also summoned the Indian ambassador and stated the “disappointment of the State of Qatar and its total rejection and condemnation to the controversial remarks made by an official in the ruling party in India against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).” Qatar, according to the magazine, has sought an apology from the Indian government, saying that it is engaged in “a cycle of violence and hate.”

Kuwait’s government also summoned the Indian ambassador and expressed its “categorical rejection and condemnation of the insulting statements.” Even Oman, it said, traditionally close to India, had a “tough reaction” to the latest episode, with its Grand Mufti, Ahmad bin Hamad al-Khalili, expressing disapproval of “the insolent and obscene rudeness of the official spokesman for the ruling extremist party in India against the messenger of Islam.” The Omani Foreign Ministry issued a strong statement, too, it added.

More countries, including the UAE, Jordan and the Maldives, have come out with critical statements, the magazine pointed out. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), consisting of six member states — Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia — which includes some of India’s key strategic partners, has also issued a statement condemning the offensive remarks. The statement noted that the GCC “condemned, rejected and denounced the statements made by the spokesperson of the Indian Bharatiya Janata Party against the Holy Prophet Muhammed (PBUH).”

The Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) also issued a strong statement, though in this case, India responded that “it categorically rejects OIC Secretariat’s unwarranted and narrow-minded comments”. The magazine said India responded to OIC since it had previous run-ins with the 57-member organization, which probably explains this different reaction.

“In addition to condemnation and critical statements, there are online calls in the Middle East for a boycott of Indian goods. #BoycottIndiaProducts and #Stopinsulting_ProphetMuhammad have been trending on social media platforms in various Gulf countries,” the dispatch said. “A Kuwaiti supermarket pulled Indian products from its shelves. The Al-Ardiya Co-Operative Society store, which pulled the Indian products in its store, was also considering country-wide boycott of Indian products, including rice and spices.”

Given the high foreign policy stakes involved, the magazine said, the BJP was compelled to take action against the offending leaders, as top diplomats in many countries in the Middle Eastern region were busy managing the diplomatic fallout.

“The Indian government had little choice but to try to pacify the Middle Eastern countries.” The Diplomat said, pointing out that India has an annual trade of $90 billion in 2020-21 with the GCC countries. Moreover, millions of Indians work in the GCC countries, and foreign remittances worth $35 billion are important too, it said. India’s dependence on the GCC for its energy requirements is another significant factor influencing the Indian response.

“Many Indian foreign policy analysts had appreciated how skillfully Modi had cultivated the Middle East for its energy security requirements, but it appears that these ill-advised comments may have done some damage, both to Indian foreign policy and Modi’s reputation,” the dispatch was pointed out.

“While the damage is unlikely to be permanent or even long term, this episode nevertheless illustrates the danger facing Indian foreign policy from domestic political developments, which is increasingly centered on religious conflicts rather than issues of development or social welfare,” the magazine said.

“This is dangerous for a country like India because its power potential is still only potential, not yet actualized.”