Muslims took to the streets in huge protests around Asia after Friday prayers, sparked by remarks about the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by an Indian ruling party official that embroiled the country in a diplomatic storm.
Anger engulfed the Islamic world since last week, when a spokeswoman for Hindutvite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party made a disrespectful comment about the Holy Prophet (PBUH) on a TV debate show. Around 20 countries have since called in their Indian ambassadors and the party has gone into damage control, suspending the official from its ranks and insisting it respected all religions.
Friday saw the biggest street rallies yet in response to the furore, with police estimating more than 100,000 people mobilised across Bangladesh after midday prayers. “We gather here today to protest the insult of our Prophet by Indian government officials,” said Amanullah Aman, a protester in the capital Dhaka. “We want death penalties for them. Crowds in the city chanted slogans denouncing Modi and warning enemies of the Muslim faith to “be careful”. Members of India’s 200 million-strong Muslim minority community staged demonstrations in several cities, with a large crowd gathered on the steps of the 17th-century Jama Masjid mosque in New Delhi. In Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, about 50 protesters staged a rally in front of the Indian embassy in Jakarta. “The Indian government must apologise to Muslims and they must take strict action against the politicians who made the remarks,” protest coordinator Ali Hasan told AFP.