Huge protests in Asia over remarks against Islam by BJP leader

Published June 11, 2022
PROTESTERS shout anti-India slogans during a demonstration in Dhaka on Friday.—AFP
PROTESTERS shout anti-India slogans during a demonstration in Dhaka on Friday.—AFP

DHAKA: Muslims took to the streets in huge protests around Asia after Friday prayers, sparked by derogatory remarks about the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) by an official of India’s ruling party last week that embroiled the country in a diplomatic storm.

Around 20 countries have since called in their Indian ambassadors and the Bhar­atiya Janata Party (BJP) 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 Friday prayers.

Crowds in the city chanted slogans denouncing Modi and warning enemies of the Muslim faith to “be careful”.

In Lahore, a protest march was taken out after Friday prayers. The Foreign Office said Pakistan was reaching out to the international community to get a collective response against India’s persecution of minorities especially Muslims.

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 whose comments set off the furore.

Police confronted stone-pelting crowds in two Indian cities on Friday as crowds protested in many areas of the country over the derogatory remarks about the Holy Prophet (PBUH) made by two former members of the ruling party.

Authorities in India-held Kashmir cut the region’s internet connections, restric­ted prayer congregations at mosques and imposed a curfew on Friday.

And 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 said.

Published in Dawn, June 11th, 2022

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