Police clash with Muslims over derogatory remarks about Prophet Mohammad

Police clash with Muslims over derogatory remarks about Prophet Mohammad

Supporters of the Jamaat-e Islami religious group protested against derogatory references to Islam and Prophet Muhammad recently made by Nupur Sharma, a spokesman for the governing Indian Hindu nationalist party, in Peshawar, Pakistan on June 8, 2022. MOHAMMAD SAJJAD AP PHOTO LUCKNOW SRINAGAR, India -- Police clashed with stone-throwing crowds in at least two Indian cities on Friday over derogatory remarks about Prophet Mohammad made by two former members of the ruling party.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has faced a backlash from Muslims at home and abroad, including from a number of Gulf countries, after two officials from his Bharatiya Janata Party commented on the prophet's private life in late May and earlier this month.

That has not calmed anger in the latest instance of what some minority Muslim community see as increased pressure on the Hindu nationalist BJP on issues ranging from freedom of worship to the wearing of hijab head scarves.

READ MORE: India tightens its security after threat over Anti-Muslim remarks.

In the Uttar Pradesh city of Prayagraj riot police with shields charged and fired tear gas at crowds on Friday in a street strewn with broken bricks and stones, video footage from Reuters partner ANI showed.

A total of 109 people were arrested by the police in different districts of Uttar Pradesh for their involvement in the protests today, according to Prashant Kumar, a senior Uttar Pradesh police official.

In Jharkhand's capital Ranchi, protesters hurled stones at police and injured some officers, senior police official Anis Gupta told Reuters by phone that the situation was now under control.

Protests in other cities and town remained peaceful.

In the Muslim-majority region of Kashmir, small groups gathered in dozens of locations, some of which raised slogans against the fired BJP officials.

In Ahmedabad, the main city in the home state of Gujarat, protesters including children marched holding posters of the two BJP officials and calling for police to arrest Sharma.

So far, no strict action has been taken against Nupur Sharma, according to protester Mohammad Jabir. She should be arrested as soon as possible. Sharma was not available for comment. She said last week that she did not intend to hurt anyone's religious feelings.

Police in New Delhi said on Thursday that they had filed a complaint against Sharma and others for inciting people on divisive lines on social media.

The BJP has instructed officials to be extremely cautious when talking about religion on public platforms and has said it does not promote insults against any sect or religion.