Six more countries have joined diplomatic protests across the Muslim world over insulting the prophet Muhammad made by spokespeople for the party of the prime minister, Narendra Modi.
Indonesia, the UAE, the Maldives, Jordan, Bahrain and Libya have joined Qatar, Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Afghanistan in lodging official complaints over comments from representatives of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party. After their comments went viral in the Middle East, hardline party members reacted angrily to disciplinary action against the pair.
Indonesia, which has the largest number of Muslims in the world, summoned the Indian ambassador in Jakarta. Indonesia strongly condemns derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad PBUHMuhammad PBUH peace be upon him by two Indian politicians, read a tweet by the foreign ministry.
Bahrain called on the need to denounce any reprehensible insults against the Prophet Muhammad PBUHMuhammad PBUH, as a provocation to Muslims feelings and incitement to religious hatred. The BJP s attempt to quell the anger by suspending its national spokesperson, Naveen Kumar Jindal, and dismissing them as fringe elements who did not represent the government's views has had little success in the Muslim world.
Hindu hardliners who have frequently targeted India's Muslim minority vented their anger over the climbdown, unusual for a party that has never faced any internal criticism in its eight years in power.
Many praised Sharma, who made the remarks during a debate on a rightwing news channel, and expressed incredulity that a BJP government could buckle under pressure from Muslim countries. Jindal has been expelled over a tweet he made about the prophet, which has since been deleted.
The hashtag ShameOnBJP was trending on Twitter with expressions of solidarity with the national spokesperson and hardliners suggested that Uttar Pradesh s firebrand chief minister Yogi Adityanath might make a better prime minister.
The party has contended that it can't jeopardise India's extensive trade links with the Arab world, its need for Gulf oil, and the requirement to protect the 6.5 million Indians who live in the Gulf.
The Indian opposition leaders have demanded the arrest of Sharma, who told Delhi police she had received death threats, and Jindal, who said the action taken so far was a sham.
The Congress party leader, Rahul Gandhi, accused the BJP of dividing India internally and weakening it externally. He said that the BJP's shameful bigotry has not only isolated us, but has also damaged India's standing in the global world.
There is a sense of puzzled relief among India's 200 million Muslims. All of their efforts to make the Modi government stop its campaign against what they eat, how they pray and dress and what they sell have failed but now a handful of Gulf countries have succeeded in forcing the BJP to backtrack, at least temporarily.
Political analysts said that the mistreatment of Muslim citizens in India had been seen as an internal matter by the wider Muslim world.
The moment the BJP insulted Muhammad, it became an unmistakable attack on Islam and the Middle East. The BJP realized that there could be a price to pay.