Iran Summons Indian Envoy Over Anti-Prophet Remarks, India Says Act by ‘Fringe Elements’

Ahead of the Iranian foreign minister’s first trip to New Delhi next week, the Foreign Ministry of Iran summoned India’s ambassador to Tehran after two spokespersons for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made derogatory remarks about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

The Iranian Foreign Ministry’s Director General for South Asia on Sunday summoned the Indian ambassador to protest on behalf of Iran’s government and people an insult by a TV program in India to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

The Indian ambassador to Tehran expressed regret over the issue and described as unacceptable any affront to Islam’s Prophet.

The envoy said this is not the stance of the Indian government which has the utmost respect for all faiths, the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s website reported.

He also noted that the person who insulted Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) holds no government post and only had a position in a party from which he was sacked.

BJP national spokeswoman Nupur Sharma was suspended from the party’s primary membership on Sunday for comments made in a recent television debate, while the BJP’s Delhi media operation head Naveen Kumar Jindal was also expelled.

Sharma is reported to have insulted the prophet and his wife Aisha in a TV debate last week. Following an outcry over the comments made during the debate, Sharma’s colleague Jindal is reported to have posted a now-deleted tweet about the prophet that also angered many.

Apart from Iran, Qatar and Kuwait have also summoned India’s ambassadors and handed over to them protest notes on categorical “rejection and condemnation” of the controversial remarks of the BJP leader against the Prophet (PBUH).

On its part, the Indian Embassy in Doha said the views expressed against the Prophet and Islam were not views of the Indian government but by “fringe elements”.

“Ambassador had a meeting in the Foreign Office in which concerns were raised with regard to some offensive tweets by individuals in India denigrating the religious personality. Ambassador conveyed that the tweets do not, in any manner, reflect the views of the Government of India. These are the views of fringe elements,” the Indian Embassy said in a statement.

“In line with our civilizational heritage and strong cultural traditions of unity in diversity, Government of India accords the highest respect to all religions. Strong action has already been taken against those who made the derogatory remarks.”

The embassy also said that “vested interests” that are against friendly ties between India and Qatar are “inciting the people using these derogatory comments”. “We should work together against such mischievous elements who aim to undercut the strength of our bilateral ties,” it added.

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