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Even as Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu is on a visit to Doha, the Government of Qatar on Sunday summoned India’s envoy and lodged protest against the “insulting remarks” made by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s leaders Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal about Prophet Mohammed.
Qatar demanded that the Government of India should publicly apologise for and immediately condemn the remarks made by the BJP leaders.
The Government of Kuwait also summoned India’s ambassador to Kuwait City, Sibi George, to protest the remarks made by the leaders.
Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Soltan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi, had a meeting with India’s ambassador Deepak Mittal, and conveyed disappointment to the remark made by the BJP leader. Al-Muraikhi handed over to Mittal a note, conveying “total rejection and condemnation” of the Government of Qatar to the controversial remarks made by an official in the ruling party in India against Prophet Mohammed,” according to a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Qatar.
Also Read | BJP suspends Nupur Sharma, expels Naveen Kumar Jindal for remarks against Prophet Mohammed
Mittal, however, conveyed to Al-Muraikhi that the remarks were the views of the fringe elements and did not, in any manner, reflect the views of the Government of India.
The comment made by Nupur Sharma as a spokesperson of the ruling BJP threw a spanner in the visit of vice president Naidu to Qatar. Naidu reached Doha on Saturday and called on Qatar’s former ruler Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who is referred to as ‘Father Emir’ since 2013, when he had abdicated the throne and handed over power to his son Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Naidu also had a meeting with Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani.
The visit of the vice president was planned to give a fillip to the India-Qatar ties and add momentum to the high-level engagements between the two nations. It was however overshadowed by the strong reaction from the Government of Qatar to the BJP spokesperson’s remark on Prophet Mohammed.
The note Al-Muraikhi handed over to Mittal mentioned that more than two billion Muslims around the world follow the guidance of Prophet Mohammed. It added that the Prophet Mohammed had given a message of peace, understanding and tolerance and had been a beacon of light followed by the Muslims.
The insulting remarks by the BJP leader indicated the clear ignorance of the pivotal role that Islam has played in the development of civilisations around the world, including in India, the Government of Qatar stated, adding that such comments could lead to incitement of religious hatred and offend the world’s Muslims.
The Government of Qatar, however, welcomed the suspension of Nupur Sharma from the BJP, which also expelled another leader Naveen Jindal for tweeting similar comments about Prophet Mohammed. It demanded a public apology and immediate condemnation of the remarks from the Government of India and pointed out that allowing such Islamophobic remarks to continue without punishment would constitute “a grave danger to the protection of human rights and may lead to further prejudice and marginalization, which will create a cycle of violence and hate”
“Vested interests that are against India-Qatar relations have been inciting the people using these derogatory comments,” the Embassy of India in Doha stated.
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