#BoycottIndiaProducts calls grow in Gulf nations amid Prophet remark row
The remarks by Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal drew international condemnation with some Islamic countries demanding an apology.
While Malaysia, Iraq and Libya joined more than a dozen Muslim nations in condemning the controversial comments against Prophet Mohammed by suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma and now-expelled leader Naveen Kumar Jindal, online campaigns such as #BoycottIndiaProducts and #Stopinsulting_ProphetMuhammad are trending on Twitter and Facebook in several Gulf countries, reported Bloomberg.
The remarks drew international condemnation with some Islamic countries demanding an apology. The Congress has asked why the country should apologise and face the consequences of the "misdeeds" of BJP leaders.
Now, with these online campaigns, many see it as a big headache for Modi, who spent the last eight years building relations with the Middle East countries to draw in investments and to build markets for Indian grains, clothing and machinery.
News agency AFP reported that a supermarket in Kuwait has removed Indian rice, spices and chillies from its shelves.
In a video, posted by the Arab News, workers of Al Ardiya Co operative Society, a superstore in Kuwait City, are seen bringing down Indian teas and other products from their shelves and denouncing the remarks as “Islamophobic.”
“We boycotted Indian products because of insults to the Prophet. We, as Kuwaiti Muslim people do not accept insulting the prophet, ” Nasser Al-Mutairi, CEO of the superstore said.
Both the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia make up about 10 per cent of India’s $1 trillion trade. The region accounts for more than half of the South Asian country’s oil imports.
Lakhs of Indian workers also power the economies in the Gulf countries alone accounting for over half of worker remittances to the South Asian nation.
Union minister Piyush Goyal said the controversy had not impacted the NDA dispensation as Sharma was not a government functionary and stressed that good relations will continue with the Gulf countries that have reacted sharply to the issue.
"I don't think that this statement was made by any government functionary and, therefore, it has no impact on the government and necessary action has been taken by the party," Goyal, minister for commerce and industry, told reporters in Kochi, Kerala when asked about the controversy.
He said the external affairs ministry has clarified the issue.
"The foreign office has come out with a clear clarification on that remark and the BJP has taken the necessary action in this regard. With all these countries, we have a very good relationship and our relations will continue to be very good," he said.
When asked about a social media campaign to boycott Indian products, the minister said he has not heard of any such thing.
"They have only mentioned that such a statement should not be made and accordingly, action has been taken against the person who made the comments. All the Indians living in gulf countries are safe and do not have to worry," the union minister said.
After the row erupted, the BJP asserted that it respects all religions and strongly denounces the insult of any religious personality.
(With inputs from agencies)