DUBAI/MUMBAI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, just weeks after a top official’s remarks about the Prophet (peace be upon him) set off anger in the Gulf.

Modi shared an embrace with UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who met the Indian leader at Abu Dhabi airport, according to a tweet by India’s foreign ministry spokesperson. “I am touched by the special gesture of my brother, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, of coming to welcome me at Abu Dhabi airport. My gratitude to him,” Modi tweeted.

The one-day visit by Modi, who is heading back to India after attending the G7 summit in Germany, follows protests by Gulf states earlier this month after a spokesperson for his party made disparaging remarks on TV. The UAE and Saudi Arabia condemned the comments, while Qatar and Kuwait summoned their Indian ambassadors. One Kuwaiti supermarket took Indian goods off its shelves.

Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party suspended spokesperson Nupur Sharma over her comments.

Tensions rise in Rajasthan after killing of Hindu man

The remarks were also blamed for clashes in India and prompted demands for her arrest.

India’s foreign minister said Modi’s visit was to convey his sympathies to Sheikh Mohamed — whose brother, former president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, died in May — and his congratulations on taking over as leader. Meanwhile, Indian police arrested two men on Tuesday after they beheaded a Hindu tailor on camera over his support online for a former ruling party official whose remarks sparked global protests.

Authorities in the western city of Udaipur shut down the internet and restricted gatherings after the gory video of the attack was posted online drawing huge numbers of viewers.

“Both the accused in the killing have been arrested and we will ensure strict punishment and speedy justice,” Ashok Gehlot, chief minister in the state of Rajasthan, where Udaipur is located, said on Twitter.

The assailants came to his shop posing as customers before attacking him with large knives. Authorities rushed additional police into Udaipur on Tuesday to counter any religious unrest.

Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2022

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