BJP leaders warn against talking about religion on public platforms

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BJP leaders warn against talking about religion on public platforms

Protestors shout slogans and burn a picture of Nupur Sharma, the spokeswoman of India's Bharatiya Janata Party, during a demonstration against her remarks about Prophet Mohammed in Karachi on June 7, 2022. ARIF ALI AFP MUMBAI Leaders of India's Hindu nationalist ruling party on Tuesday warned officials not to be very cautious when talking about religion on public platforms after derogatory remarks about Prophet Mohammad drew protests from Islamic nations.

The Bharatiya Janata Party doesn't want its officials to speak in a way that hurts the religious sentiments of any community. They must make sure that the party's doctrine is shared in a sophisticated manner. A senior BJP leader and federal minister in New Delhi.

India's minority Muslims feel more pressure on everything from freedom of worship to hijab head scarves under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party. There were a number of Hindu-Muslim clashes during religious processions recently after deadly riots in 2019 -- 20.

We do not want party officials to speak in a way that hurts the religious sentiments of any community. The party's doctrine must be shared in a sophisticated manner, said a senior BJP leader and federal minister in New Delhi.

With about 110 million members, mainly Hindus, the BJP is the world's largest political party, while Muslims comprise about 13% of India's 1.35 billion population.

Last week, the BJP suspended the spokeswoman and expelled another official after Islamic nations demanded apologies from the Indian government and summoned diplomats to protest against anti-Islamic remarks made during a TV debate.

Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran were among the nations that made their complaints public.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, which includes 57 members, said in a statement that the insults came in the context of an increasingly intense atmosphere of hatred toward Islam in India and systematic harassment of Muslims.

While Modi's party has denied any rise in communal tensions during his reign, BJP rule has emboldened hardline Hindu groups in recent years to take up causes that they say defend their faith, stoking a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment.

In an annual report on international religious freedom released in June, the US State Department said that attacks on members of minority communities, including killings, assaults and intimidation, took place in India throughout 2021.

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

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

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Foreign policy experts said that Modi had improved economic ties with energy-rich Islamic nations, the main source for India's fuel imports, but relations have come under stress due to the anti-Islamic utterances of the two BJP members.

In parts of India, small-scale protests erupted as Muslim groups demanded the arrest of the suspended BJP spokeswoman.