Qatar summons Indian envoy to protest controversial remarks against Prophet
India and Qatar share close ties in crucial areas such as energy, trade and security. The West Asian country acted after one of the top trending hashtags on Twitter on Saturday referred to the derogatory remarks and specifically named the Indian prime minister.
New Delhi: Qatar on Sunday summoned the Indian ambassador to protest “controversial remarks” against Prophet Mohammed made by a former BJP spokesperson, even as the envoy made it clear the comments didn’t reflect the government’s position and were the “views of fringe elements”.
The development followed a groundswell of anger in West Asia, especially Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, over remarks by two former BJP spokespersons against Prophet Mohammed and his wife that were seen as blasphemous in the Arab world. The envoy in Doha was summoned to the foreign ministry hours after vice president M Venkaiah Naidu arrived in Qatar on an official visit.
Indian ambassador Deepak Mittal was handed an official note by minister of state for foreign affairs Soltan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi that expressed Qatar’s disappointment and “its total rejection and condemnation [of] the controversial remarks made by an official in the ruling party in India against Prophet Mohammed...Islam and Muslims”, according to a Qatari statement.
The Qatari side welcomed the statement issued by the BJP to announce the suspension of the party spokesperson, and noted the “state of Qatar is expecting a public apology and immediate condemnation of these remarks from the government of India”.
Mittal informed the Qatari side that some “offensive tweets” by individuals in India denigrating the religious personality “do not, in any manner, reflect the views of the government of India”, according to the spokesperson of the Indian embassy in Doha.
“These are the views of fringe elements,” Mittal said. The Indian government accords the highest respect to all religions in line with the country’s civilisational heritage and strong cultural traditions of unity in diversity, he added.
Strong action was taken against those who made the derogatory remarks, and a statement was issued by “concerned quarters emphasising respect for all religions, denouncing insult to any religious personality or demeaning any religion or sect”, he said.
Mittal said “vested interests” that are against India-Qatar ties have been “inciting the people using these derogatory comments”. The two sides should work together against “such mischievous elements” trying to undercut the strength of bilateral ties, he said.
India and Qatar share close ties in crucial areas such as energy, trade and security. The West Asian country acted after one of the top trending hashtags on Twitter on Saturday referred to the derogatory remarks and specifically named the Indian prime minister. The hashtag was shared with calls for boycotting Indian goods.
One of the two BJP spokespersons involved in the matter was suspended while the other was expelled from the party.
The Qatari side said “allowing such Islamophobic remarks to continue without punishment constitutes a grave danger to the protection of human rights” and might lead to further prejudice. It added that these remarks will lead to incitement of religious hatred and “indicate the clear ignorance of the pivotal role that Islam has played in the development of civilisations around the world, including in India”.
There are more than 700,000 Indian nationals living in Qatar – the largest expatriate community in the country – and they include a large number of blue collar workers and professionals in fields such as medicine, engineering, education, finance and business.