Fahad Ali describes an intolerable outrage
It was a matter of time for the rising communal verbiage generated by hatred-spewing Blasphemous Hindutva to spill over the borders of communally intolerant India and it is now more than evident. The entire Muslim world has slammed India over insulting remarks made by leading protagonists of the ultra-right BJP regime that has badly aggravated the already tenuous faultlines of Indian polity. India is facing major diplomatic outrage from Islamic world after top officials in the governing Hindu nationalist party made derogatory references to Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), drawing accusations of blasphemy across it that have left New Delhi struggling to contain the damaging fallout. Almost all major Muslim sections have lodged strong protests along with some of them boycotting Indians goods creating widespread discomfiture in the official, commercial and trade circles. It is reported that major Muslim countries are particularly enraged due to the recalcitrant attitude shown by the Modi government.
It was expected since long that such blatant anti-Islamic policies of the BJP regime were bound to create adverse reaction in the Islamic world and this is precisely what has happened. The increasing spectre of religious persecution experienced by Indian Muslims was closely monitored by the concerned segments of Islamic world and it was noticed that any-Muslim activities were mostly conducted on behest by groups either encouraged or supported by the BJP led Hindutva ideology. It was consistently observed that Hindutva extremism was getting out of control rendering lives of Indian Muslims in jeopardy. The anti-Muslim sentiments propagated in the country had wider impact as they were spilling over to challenge the tenets of Islamic faith that is simply an anathema to the Muslims the world over. Fears were consistently expressed that the communal hatred spread by Hindutva had significant religious ring having the potential to hurt the sentiments of Muslims the world over.
The religious-based persecution of Muslims has caused international worries as they are targeted for everything ranging from their food, clothing to inter-religious marriages. Many human rights groups such as Rights Watch and Amnesty International have warned that attacks could escalate. They have repeatedly pointed out the deliberate collusion between Modi’s governing party and Hindutva religious extremist groups with deadly consequences for the Muslims of India that constitute almost 20 per cent population of India. Matters in this respect came to a head after two official spokespeople of BJP, Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal, made speculative remarks that were seen as insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his wife Aisha (RA). Despite widespread outrage of both Indian media and social media Modi government kept mum compelling Islamic world to break into diplomatic outrage that began with Qatar and Kuwait summoning their Indian ambassadors to protest.
The BJP suspended Sharma and expelled Jindal and issued a rare statement saying it strongly denounces insult of any religious personalities. Later, Saudi Arabia and Iran also lodged complaints with India with Jeddah-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation said the remarks came in a context of intensifying hatred and abuse toward Islam in India and systematic practices against Muslims. The intransigent rejection by India of OIC’s comments as unwarranted and stated that the derogatory remarks were made by fringe elements. This added fuel to the stand taken by the Islamic countries and they made it clear that insulting the Prophet (PBUH) was a red line crossed deliberately. Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said it expected a public apology from the Indian government, and Kuwait warned that if the comments go unpunished, India would see an increase of extremism and hatred.
The Grand Mufti of Oman described the obscene rudeness of Modi’s party toward Islam as a form of war and announced boycott of Indian goods. He was supported by Islamic scholar Sheikh Muhammad al-Hassan al-Dido al-Shanqiti who is among the influential people who have called for the boycott. They stated that the brazen and obscene pretentiousness of the official spokesman of the ruling extremist party in India against the messenger of Islam (pbuh) and his pure wife, Mother of the Believers, Ayesha (RA) may Allah be pleased with her, is a war against every Muslim in the east and west of the earth and it is a matter that calls for all Muslims to rise as one nation. Several Middle Eastern countries including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain have reportedly removed Indian products from their superstores. Meanwhile in Kuwait, pictures of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have been posted on trash bins. Riyadh said the comments were insulting and called for respect for beliefs and religions and Egypt’s Al-Azhar Mosque, the Sunni world’s foremost institution of religious learning, described the remarks as real terrorism that can plunge the entire world into severe crises and deadly wars.
The poisonous remarks have damaged India’s relations with Muslim states and this could be the beginning of deeply-strained economic ties that may harm India as millions of millions of migrant workers from India serve their local populations and drive the machinery of daily life. India also depends on oil-rich Gulf Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia, to power its energy-thirsty economy.
Modi government also committed a cardinal error by harshly responding to diplomatic protests lodged by Islamic countries and the combative language of its response further aggravated the situation. Despite the haughtiness shown by the Modi regime concerns are growing in India that billions of dollars worth of trade and remittances from the Muslim states cannot be lost over the controversy. The Gulf Muslim countries are its lifeblood as far as dollar remittances are concerned as could be borne out by the fact that as compared to $11.7 billion in remittances coming from the US, the UAE’s contribution alone was $13.8 billion. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar are equally critical sources of India’s dollar influx. Though they display nice attitude towards India yet it is getting clear that they are up to their necks for putting up with daily insults and threats meted out to Indian Muslims.
The controversy erupted as India’s Vice President Venkaiah Naidu was to begin his official visit to Doha and feeling the heat, Naidu had to cancel his press conference in Doha. The Iranian protest came three days before the Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian was going for his first visit to Delhi. In a withering comment on Twitter, Qatar’s assistant foreign minister noted that Islamophobic discourse has reached dangerous levels in a country long known for its diversity and coexistence adding that unless the government of India officially and systemically confronts hate speech, it would be considered a deliberate insult against 2 billion Muslims worldwide. Intriguingly, the Modi mantra has taken such a stronghold in India’s majority Hindu community that it reacted to the protests of the Islamic pressure by putting counter-pressure on Modi regime and has accused it of buckling under international pressure.
Despite intransigent attitude shown by the Indians about protests from the Islamic world the tone of anger increased that led to boycott of Indian products in across the Muslim world compelling the BJP to suspend the basic party membership of its spokeswoman and major propagandist, Nupur Sharma, for her blasphemous remarks against Holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). This is quite rare for Modi to back down from such confrontations and it certainly is the outcome of calls by Muslim clerics to boycott India and its Prime Minister Modi who is the main architect of Islamophobic and genocidal incidents across India.TW