India: BJP asks officials to exercise caution when talking about religion

Instruction was given after derogatory remarks about the Prophet drew protests



By Agencies

Published: Wed 8 Jun 2022, 9:08 AM

Leaders of the Indian ruling party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), instructed officials to be "extremely cautious" when talking about religion on public platforms on Tuesday. This instruction was given after derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) drew protests from Islamic nations.

Two BJP leaders said the verbal instructions were given to over 30 senior officials and some federal ministers who are authorised to take part in TV debates hosted by Indian news channels often broadcast live to millions of viewers, according to Reuters.

"We don't want party officials to speak in a way that hurts the religious sentiments of any community...They must ensure the party's doctrine gets shared in a sophisticated manner," said a senior BJP leader and federal minister in New Delhi.

Last week the BJP suspended their spokeswoman and expelled another official after GCC and Arab nations demanded apologies from the Indian government.

The UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran were among the nations that condemned the remarks and issued official statements.

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India's foreign ministry said on Monday the offensive tweets and comments did not in any way reflect the government's views.

"We are not barred from speaking on sensitive religious issues, but we must never insult the basic tenets of any religion," said senior BJP spokesperson Gopal Krishna Agarwal.

Modi in recent years has improved economic ties with energy-rich Middle East nations, the main source for India's fuel imports, but relations have come under stress from the anti-Islamic utterances of the two BJP members, foreign policy experts said.

Small-scale protests erupted in parts of India as Muslim groups demanded the arrest of the suspended BJP spokeswoman.


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