Arab countries launched protests against the Indian government over controversial remarks made by the Bharatiya Janata Party members Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal against the Prophet Mohammed.
On a TV channel debate show last week, Sharma, who was the BJP's national spokesperson, insulted the Prophet Mohammed and his wife Aisha. Jindal also insulted the Prophet and his wife in a now-deleted tweet.
The BJP suspended Sharma and expelled Jindal from the party and issued a statement saying, "The BJP strongly denounces insults of any religious personalities of any religion. The Bharatiya Janata Party is also against any ideology which insults or demeans any sect or religion. The BJP does not promote such people or philosophy."
The BJP's move to suspend Sharma did not go well with its supporters on social media with #ShameOnBJP trending on Twitter
In a statement on Twitter, Sharma attempted an apology seeking forgiveness if her statements hurt religious sentiments. She also stated that her remarks were in response to "Mahadev being insulted and disrespected continuously."
Qatar's Ministry of Home Affairs summoned the Indian ambassador Deepak Mittal to express the country's disappointment at the remarks made by Sharma and Jindal.
While it welcomed Sharma's suspension from the party, Qatar stated that it expects the Indian government to condemn the remarks and issue a public apology.
The Indian Embassy in Qatar issued a statement in response terming Sharma and Jindal "fringe elements" and adding that their remarks do not reflect the views of the Government of India.
Qatar's statement came during Vice President Venkaiah Naidu official visit to Qatar where he met with Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the father of Emir of Qatar and also held delegation level talks with the Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al Thani.
VP Naidu cancelled a scheduled press conference in Doha as Arab countries followed suit in protesting Sharma's comments.
The Kuwaiti Foreign Affairs Ministry also joined Qatar in expressing its disappointment to the Indian ambassador and demanded a public apology from the Indian government.
The Grand Mufti of Oman came down strongly on Sharma and Jindal calling their statements "insolent and obscene rudeness" and stating that they were a "a war against every Muslim in the world...that calls for all Muslims to rise as one nation."
India is the largest diaspora community in the world with close to 7.6 million Indians living in the Gulf countries according to the Ministry of External Affairs. In 2017, India received $38 billion in remittances from Arab countries.
India depends heavily on Arab countries for its oil requirements with Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait and the UAE among its top five exporters.
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