The United States has condemned recent remarks by two Indian ruling party leaders on the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) which have sparked a furore in many Muslim-majority countries.
“We condemn the offensive comments made by two BJP officials and we were glad to see that the party publicly condemns those comments,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price told the media.
“We regularly engage with the Indian government at senior levels on human rights concerns including freedom of religion or belief and we encourage India to promote respect for human rights,” NDTV quoted Price as saying on Thursday.
Protests erupted in different Indian states as well as in Bangladesh in the wake of the remarks on the Prophet (PBUH), which also triggered a major diplomatic row between India and many Muslim-majority countries – the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait and Qatar to name a few.
India’s ruling BJP said on June 5 that it had suspended its spokeswoman Nupur Sharma in response to comments she made during a TV debate about the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Sharma said on Twitter she had said some things in response to comments made about a Hindu god but she had no intention to hurt anyone’s religious feelings.
“If my words have caused discomfort or hurt religious feelings of anyone whatsoever, I hereby unconditionally withdraw my statement,” she said.
Another BJP spokesman Naveen Jindal had been expelled from the party over comments he had made about Islam on social media, the BJP office said.
Jindal said on Twitter he had questioned some comments made against Hindu gods. “I only questioned them but that does not mean I am against any religion.”
The BJP statement also said: “The Bharatiya Janata Party is also strongly against any ideology which insults or demeans any sect or religion. The BJP does not promote such people or philosophy.”
Sharma’s comments prompted complaints from several Muslim countries, including Qatar and Kuwait.