Huge protests in Asia over Indian politicians’ remarks against Holy Prophet

Anger has engulfed the Islamic world since last week, when a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party made a disrespectful comment on the Holy Prophet on a TV debate show.

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.

People hold posters during a protest demanding the arrest of suspended Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokeswoman Nupur Sharma and expelled BJP leader Naveen Jindal, for their comments on the Prophet, outside a mosque in Mumbai on Friday. — Reuters

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 by Indian government officials,” said Amanullah Aman, a protester in the capital Dhaka.

Muslims participate in a protest demanding the arrest of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member Nupur Sharma for her comments on the Prophet in Kolkata, India on Friday. — Reuters

“We want death penalties for them. Crowds in the city chanted slogans denouncing Modi and warning enemies of the Muslim faith to “be careful”.

In Pakistan, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) held a march in its stronghold of Lahore after Friday prayers.

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

Demonstrators carry an effigy of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party former spokeswoman Nupur Sharma during a protest over her remarks on the Prophet in Karachi on Friday. — AFP

“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 apologise’

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 mosque in New Delhi.

Protestors clash with police during a protest demanding the arrest of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member Nupur Sharma for her comments on the Prophet in Prayagraj, India on Friday. — Reuters

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 spokeswoman whose comments set off the furore.

Authorities in Indian-occupied 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 the Prophet.

People raise their hands and chant slogans against the blasphemous comments on the Prophet by the members of the Indian Bharatiya Janata Party, during a protest in Karachi on Friday. — Reuters

In Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, about 50 protesters staged a rally in front of the Indian embassy in Jakarta.

“The Indian government must apologise to Muslims and they must take strict action against the politicians who made the remarks,” protest coordinator Ali Hasan told AFP.

The row follows anger across the Muslim world in 2020 after French President Emmanuel Macron defended the right of a satirical magazine to publish caricatures of the Prophet.

Bangladesh’s religious parties’ activists and supporters hold placards as they shout anti-India slogans during a demonstration in Dhaka on Friday. — AFP

French teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded in October 2020 by a Chechen refugee after showing the cartoons to his class in a lesson on free speech.

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