Remarks on Prophet Mohammed: Did West Asia social media outrage force BJP to take action?

Twitter users urged the Oman govt to take over all Indian investments and send off its citizens

Remarks on Prophet Mohammed: Did West Asia social media outrage force BJP to take action?

Women from the Muslim community shout slogans during their protest against BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma over her alleged remarks on Prophet Mohammad. PTI File

Tribune News Service

Sandeep Dikshit

New Delhi, June 5

The strong reaction from the Grand Mufti of Oman, Sheikh Ahmed bin Hamad Al Khalili, followed by a Twitter storm in West Asia may have been crucial in the BJP suspending its spokesperson Nupur Sharma for insulting Prophet Mohammad and his wife Ayesha on a television channel.

Though there was no widespread corroboration of reports that superstores in the Middle East removed Indian products, the last straw may have been the strong social media reaction in Oman, whose last ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, nurtured a Hindu temple in Muscat and invited Indian priests to recite the Maha Mruthyunjaya Yaaga and Maha Vishnu Yaaga for his well-being.

In a stinging social media post from his verified handle, the Grand Mufti of Oman said, “the insolent and obscene rudeness of the official spokesman for the ruling extremist party in India against the Messenger of Islam and his pure wife Aisha is a war against every Muslim in the east and west of the earth, and it is a matter that calls for all Muslims to rise as one nation.”

The Grand Mufti also called for a boycott of Indian products while several Twitter users urged the Government to take over all Indian investments and lay off its citizens.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited the Shiva temple complex when he had last visited Oman in 2018. But the India-Oman connection runs deeper. At a time when the Gulf nations were tilted towards Pakistan on the military side, Oman regularly held joint exercises with the Indian Navy which have now blossomed to involve all the three services.

Most importantly, Indian expatriates constitute about a quarter of Oman’s population and are considered among the richest communities in the country. Post-Covid, Oman absorbed another 60,000 Indians in its workforce. No government official of note from GCC countries has spoken so far but in Turkey and all GCC countries the “Insult to Prophet Mohammed” hashtag has been trending in the top 10 since Saturday. A scrutiny shows this has been partly aided by enthusiastic participation from Pakistani twitter handles.

This snowballing effect from the Grand Mufti’s observations this time is different. There were not too many ripples earlier in February when Sheikh Ahmad, who was conferred the “Star of Pakistan” civilian award this year, had weighed in on the Hijab controversy.  

 

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