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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Protests flare across India over Islamophobic remarks by BJP members

Police confronted stone-throwing crowds in at least two Indian cities on Friday as crowds protested in many areas of the country over derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammad made by two former members of the ruling party.

Muslims took to the streets in huge protests around Asia after Friday prayers, sparked by remarks about Prophet Muhammad by an Indian ruling party official that embroiled the country in a diplomatic storm.

Anger has engulfed the Islamic world since last week when a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party made derogatory references to Islam and Prophet Muhammad on a TV debate show.

Read more: Why fighting against Islamophobia is beneficial for the whole humanity?

Around 20 countries have since called in their Indian ambassadors and the party has gone into damage control, suspending the official from its ranks and insisting it respected all religions.

Friday saw the biggest street rallies yet in response to the furore, with police estimating more than 100,000 people mobilised across Bangladesh after midday prayers.

“We gather here today to protest the insult of our Prophet (Muhammad) by Indian government officials,” said Amanullah Aman, a protester in the capital Dhaka. “We want death penalties for them.”

Crowds in the city chanted slogans denouncing Mr Modi and warning enemies of the Muslim faith to “be careful”.
In Pakistan, a radical religious party known for frequently paralysing the country with its anti-blasphemy rallies held a march in its stronghold of Lahore after Friday prayers.

Around 5,000 supporters of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan — a previously banned group — gathered to protest in the city centre calling on the government to take stronger action against India over the comments.

“The Prophet of Islam is our red line. Be it India… or anyone else, they should know that defenders of Islam will not remain silent,” said school teacher Irfan Rizvi.

‘Must apologize’

Members of India’s 200 million-strong Muslim minority community staged demonstrations in several cities, with a large crowd gathered on the steps of the 17th-century Jama Masjid in New Delhi.

Elsewhere in the capital, social media footage showed students of the prestigious Jamia Millia Islamia university burning an effigy of Nupur Sharma — the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokeswoman whose comments set off the furor.

Authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir cut the restive territory’s internet connections, restricted prayer congregations at mosques and imposed a curfew on Friday.

A spontaneous shutdown saw businesses close across Srinagar, the region’s major city, with protesters calling for retribution against “disrespect” to Prophet Muhammad.

And in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, about 50 protesters staged a rally in front of the Indian embassy in Jakarta.
Reuters with additional input by GVS