India on Monday hit out at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) after it condemned the derogatory comments made by two former BJP leaders on Prophet Muhammed and Islam.
The official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, Arindam Bagchi, said the OIC’s comments are “misleading and mischievous”. India’s strong response came while several countries, including India’s crucial Gulf partner, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and security partners Oman and Jordan condemned the remarks. The UAE urged India to foster “mutual coexistence”.
In a strongly worded response, Mr. Bagchi said the OIC should stop its “communal approach” and said “it is regrettable that the OIC Secretariat has yet again chosen to make motivated, misleading and mischievous comments. This only exposes its divisive agenda being pursued at the behest of vested interests.”
Earlier the General Secretariat of the OIC “strongly condemned” the derogatory remarks and connected them with other internal developments in India. “These abuses come in the context of the escalation of hatred and abuse of Islam in India and in the context of the systematic practices against Muslims and restrictions on them,” the OIC had said in its statement.
‘Pak. a serial violator of rights’
The official spokesperson’s strongest response was for the Prime Minister of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif who had urged the world to “severely reprimand India” and take note of the offensive comments and said, “Our love for the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is supreme. All Muslims can sacrifice their life for the Love & Respect of their Holy Prophet (PBUH).”
Responding to the comment, Mr. Bagchi said, “The absurdity of a serial violator of minority rights commenting on the treatment of minorities in another nation is not lost on anyone. The world has been witness to the systemic persecution of minorities, including Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Ahmadiyyas, by Pakistan.”
Continuing the international outrage, the UAE on Monday condemned the comments that insulted the Prophet of Islam. The remarks from the UAE is an important turn in the controversy as the country has recently concluded a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India and is a crucial aviation and investment destination for the country. “The Ministry underscored the need to respect religious symbols and not violate them, as well as confront hate speech and violence,” a comment from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the UAE said.
More nations protest
While Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar, and Kuwait condemned the derogatory remarks on Sunday, Bahrain, Pakistan, Taliban of Afghanistan, the UAE, Jordan and Oman issued condemnations on Monday.
Nupur Sharma and Navin Kumar Jindal, the two figures who had uttered those comments, were stripped of their responsibilities by the BJP once Qatar and Kuwait became the first countries to protest against the offensive remarks about the Prophet.
The MEA has been maintaining that “strong action has already been taken against these individuals by relevant bodies.” While the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have condemned the offensive statements individually, GCC Secretary General Dr. Nayef Falah M. Al Hajraf too “rejected and denounced the statements” against the Prophet of Islam.
Indonesia too has condemned the comments. “This message has been conveyed to the Indian Ambassador in Jakarta,” said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia in an announcement.
Both Qatar and Kuwait summoned Indian ambassadors and lodged formal protests on Sunday and asked for public apology from India. In response, the Embassy of India in Doha described Ms. Sharma and Mr. Jindal as “fringe elements”.
However, the MEA adopted a different approach while dealing with comments from Pakistan and the generally pro-Pakistan OIC. Vice President Venkaiah Naidu’s visit to Qatar, which was overshadowed by the controversy came to an end on Monday evening, with the Indian side highlighting 3Cs, “culture, cuisine and cinema” that connect both sides.