India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his party BJP, and government face global censure over offensive comments made by two senior members of the BJP about the Prophet Muhammad. It is not the first time though that their ongoing damage control and diplomatic firefighting -after peddling Islamophobia, has been noticed again and with concerns in the region and among the global Muslim community:
In Dhaka and Sylhet cities of Bangladesh this week, protest rallies were held against the blasphemous remarks on the Prophet by Hindutva BJP leader Nupur Sharma and others amid call for “Boycott Indian Products” increasing:
In Maldives, Modi pictures appeared on thrash cans after the insult to the Prophet:
A WhatsApp share claims: “The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Middle Eastern countries—Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman are under the process of meetings & conferences against the cruelty of BJP Govt which has passed NRC, NPR, CAA bills against Muslim citizens of India and the Indian Constitution. If these NRC, CAA are not cancelled and withdrawn, then Saudi Arabia is planning to put a ban on 83% of Crude Oil supplies to India. Later, Iran may also ban Oil supplies to India. Turkey has urged UNO and Human Rights Commission to act wisely on the situation in India. If UNO does not take legal action then TURKEY is ready to form a new UNO. If the situation in India is not normalized then the Jeddah-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) may also call and urge an emergency meeting with all its 57 member countries and may start deporting Hindu expatriates back to India.”
A rally in Iran (WhatsApp shared):
A video share by Irshad Salim of DesPardes.com on the latest Islamophobic incident in India:
This is not the first time that Mr Modi’s party and government face censure for Islamophobia.
An excerpt from a recent BCC report:
Two years ago BJP MP Tejasvi Surya found himself in the center of a storm when his 2015 tweet on Arab women went viral. Prominent businesspeople, lawyers and commentators in Dubai and Kuwait condemned his remarks. (Mr Surya deleted the tweet later.)
In a 2018 public meeting, India’s interior minister Amit Shah said that Bangladeshi citizens who had entered India illegally were “infiltrators” who had “eaten our country like termites”.
This whipped up a storm in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, where a senior minister described the remark by India’ second most powerful leader as “unwanted and uninformed”. A Bangladeshi columnist wrote that Mr Shah “had a long history of making hateful, insulting remarks about Bangladesh”.
Over the past year, India has been hit by a tsunami of hate speech by saffron-robed right-wing Hindu radical leaders against the country’s 200 million-strong Muslim community. Some of them have openly exhorted Hindus to take up arms and spoken about genocide of Muslims.
In the past, the right-wing has raised the bogey of so called “love jihad”, a baseless conspiracy theory accusing Muslim men of converting Hindu women by marriage. Vigilante Hindu mobs have lynched suspected Muslim cow smugglers and demanded a boycott of businesses owned by the community.
On social media, female Muslim journalists and social workers have been ferociously trolled. Muslim women have been put up for sale in fake online auctions. Partisan news networks have added fuel to the fire by provoking participants into taking up extreme positions during shrill talk shows.
Mr Modi’s government has either maintained a studied silence, been slow to respond or blamed “fringe elements” for such actions.
All this appears to have emboldened ordinary Hindus to go online and tarnish Muslims. There have been consequences. In 2018, a popular Indian-origin chef working in a Dubai hotel was fired for posting an anti-Islamic tweet. When Indians living in Dubai began posting anti-Tablighi Jamaat tweets in 2020, a local businesswoman with links to the ruling royal family tweeted that “anyone that is openly racist and discriminatory in the UAE will be fined and made to leave”.
This time too, unsurprisingly, the blowback has been fierce – 15 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Iran and Qatar, have lodged protests with India. Making derogatory remarks against the Prophet was clearly “crossing the red line”, says Talmiz Ahmad, a former Indian diplomat.
Mr Modi’s government has been forced to suspend its spokesperson for her remarks. It is a reminder that “targeting minorities with impunity, and hate speech with official sanction, will have repercussions for India’s global reputation,” notes Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a leading scholar.
In private, many BJP leaders believe that the outrage will soon die down, and it will be business as usual. More here >