Published: 06th June 2022
#WhatTheFAQ: Why is the Gulf boycotting India? What did Nupur Sharma do?
Indian envoys in prominent Muslim nations are being summoned for explanations and apologies over comments made by a BJP spokesperson on national television
Nupur Sharma and her comments have been creating a buzz on social media for the last ten days. Now, other countries have taken note and they are not happy. While she has now apologised and withdrawn her statements, the debates still rage on over the impact of her actions on "India's image". This is what has been happening.
Who is Nupur Sharma?
A member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Sharma was one of the official national spokespersons for the ruling party of India. She had also contested against Delhi's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in the 2015 Delhi Assembly Elections. She began her political career as a leader of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), which is the student wing of BJP's parent body, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). She was the president of the students' union at Delhi University in 2008. Back then, she was in the news for heckling former DU professor SAR Geelani.
What did she say to tick people off?
This time around, Sharma is in the news for her comments on Prophet Muhammad. She was invited to speak on Times Now's programme with anchor Navika Kumar on the Gyanvapi Mosque issue that is currently sub-judice in the Varanasi High Court. Sharma made an offensive comment against Prophet Muhammed on May 27.
What was the reaction in India?
Cases were filed in police stations in Hyderabad, Mumbai and Pune. A violent clash between two communities allegedly broke out in Kanpur in the aftermath of the statements.
While senior BJP leaders initially spoke out in support of Sharma, other activists and politicians condemned her remarks.
What action are certain foreign countries taking?
This week, Muslim countries in the Middle East have issued strong statements against the incident. The Indian Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu is on a visit to Qatar right now and media reports suggest that a dinner that was supposed to be hosted for him by the Deputy Emir of Qatar has been cancelled and a press conference, which Naidu was supposed to address, has also been called off. This happened hours after the Indian Ambassador in Qatar was summoned on account of the comments and a public apology was sought from India. Indian envoys were also summoned by the governments of Iran, Kuwait and Pakistan on the matter. The Grand Mufti of Oman also called for a boycott of Indian products in the Middle East. In fact, reports suggest that stores in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and others have already removed Indian products from their stands.
What action did the BJP take?
After the Indian envoys were summoned by various countries, the BJP, on Sunday, June 5, suspended Nupur Sharma from her primary membership of the party and distanced itself from the remarks. However, the government has also hit back at the Gulf countries, saying that their reaction to the comments on Prophet Muhammad was "unwarranted" and "narrow-minded".
What did netizens say?
On the one hand, people blamed the BJP for bringing "shame to the country". On the other hand, supporters of the ruling party took to Twitter to trend a (misspelt) hashtag to boycott Qatar Airways: #BycottQatarAirways.
Some had hilarious takes:
The BJP truly respects oil religions.— Kajol Srinivasan (@LOLrakshak) June 5, 2022
While some had sobering ones:
The other side of the story is that tomorrow when a poor Indian Muslim man is lynched, this outrage from the Arabic states won't be seen. Religion considers the dead more important than the living.— Pratik Sinha (@free_thinker) June 5, 2022