US slams Indian ruling party leaders’ ‘offensive comments’ against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

WASHINGTON, Jun 17 (APP): The United States has joined Islamic countries in condemning the derogatory remarks by India’s ruling party leaders about Holy Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) that have angered the Muslims across the world.

“Well, this is something that we’ve condemned,” State Department Spokesman Ned Price told reporters at his daily briefing on Thursday, in response to a question from the correspondent of a private Pakistani television channel.

“We condemn the offensive comments made by two BJP officials and we were glad to see that the party publicly condemns those comments,” he said.

Thousands of the Muslims across India have taken to the streets to protest the incendiary remarks made about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Nupur Sharma and media chief Naveen Jindal. In a damage control mode, the BJP removed both of them from their roles.

The protests spread to Islamic countries where some of them have demanded an apology from the Indian government. Pakistan and several other Islamic countries summoned Indian diplomats to protest those remarks.

“We regularly engage with the Indian Government at senior levels on human rights concerns, including freedom of religion or belief, and we encourage India to promote respect for human rights,” Price added.

“The Secretary (of State Antony Blinken) said when he was last in New Delhi, last year, that the Indian people and the American people, we believe in the same values: human dignity, human respect, equality of opportunity, and the freedom of religion or belief. These are fundamental tenets, these are fundamental values within any democracy.”

Following the unrest, houses of Muslim activists in the northern Uttar Pradesh state were demolished by the state’s right-wing Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s government.

Two of the razed houses belonged to the people accused of throwing stones following Friday prayers, while the third was the family house of activist Afreen Fatima.

The US has on several occasions raised concerns about the rise of human rights violations and the erosion of religious freedom in India. The State Department’s annual report on international religious freedom stated that religious minorities in India faced intimidation throughout 2021.

“Attacks on members of religious minority communities, including killings, assaults, and intimidation, occurred throughout the year. These included incidents of ‘cow vigilantism’ against non-Hindus based on allegations of cow slaughter or trade in beef,” the report said.