The United States has condemned remarks by a suspended BJP official Nupur Sharma about the Prophet Mohammed that have sparked an uproar in many countries.
“We condemn the offensive comments made by two BJP officials, and we were glad to see that the party publicly condemns those comments,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.
“We regularly engage with the Indian government at senior levels on human rights concerns, including freedom of religion or belief, and we encourage India to promote respect for human rights,” he said.
Remarks by a former spokeswoman for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who has since been suspended, sparked the uproar. BJP suspended Nupur Sharma after Gulf nations, including Qatar and Saudi Arab, condemned India and demanded action. The party’s media chief for Delhi posted a tweet last week about the Prophet that was later deleted.
“I have been attending TV debates for the past many days where our Mahadev was being insulted and disrespected continuously. It was mockingly being said that it is not Shivling but a fountain. The Shivling was also being ridiculed by comparing it to roadside signs and poles in Delhi,” Ms Sharma tweeted.
“I could not tolerate this continuous insult and disrespect towards our Mahadev, and I said some things in response to it. If my words have caused discomfort or hurt the religious feelings of anyone whatsoever, I hereby unconditionally withdraw my statement. It was never my intention to hurt anyone’s religious feelings,” she added.
Sharma’s comments set off diplomatic protests in many Muslim countries, including Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. In Bangladesh, protesters have demanded a formal condemnation from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, a close ally of India, the news agency AFP reported.