Soon after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suspended party spokesperson Nupur Sharma and expelled their Delhi media chief Naveen Jindal from the party's primary membership, ostensibly for their derogatory comments against Prophet Muhammad, Opposition leaders were quick to point out that the Arab world's reaction must have prompted the BJP to take such a step.
National Conference leader and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah wrote on Twitter, "The reaction in the Arab world must have really stung."
In view of the backlash by Iran, Bahrain, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, among others, the BJP's general secretary Arun Singh proceeded to release a statement claiming that the party "is against any ideology which insults or demeans any sect or religion."
"The BJP does not promote such people or philosophy," Singh's statement added.
In response to this, Congress general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala said that BJP's release was "nothing but a blatantly counterfeit pretence, which is a farce and another sham attempt at damage control."
The statement read, "The intrinsic character of BJP and Modi government is now founded upon religious violence."
'Shameful Bigotry': Rahul Gandhi Slams BJP
Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took a jab at the BJP government on Monday, 6 June, and said that the saffron party's "shameful bigotry" had damaged India's standing globally.
He tweeted, "Divided internally, India becomes weak externally. BJP's shameful bigotry has not only isolated us, but also damaged India's standing globally."
'How Come Sharma and Jindal Not Arrested Yet,' Asks Cong Leader Sadaf Jafar
Congress leader Sadaf Jafar wrote, "How come Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal not arrested yet, they should be charged for instigating communal tension not just in India but in the Arab world. Issuing a letter is not enough, we demand action against the wrongdoers..."
Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi wrote, "For their domestic audience to be fed with hate, they put at risk thousands of Indians working in Middle East countries, damage long standing relationships India has had, and destroy Indian businesses."
Trinamool Congress spokesperson Saket Gokhale tweeted, "Quite telling of our system that the Arab world & the US State Dept reacted to a BJP Spokesperson’s vile communal comments while Indian courts kept mum."
TMC's Derek O'Brien also stated "domestic bigoted bullying, backfires internationally" with hashtag 'shame on BJP'.
Meanwhile, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi wrote, "20 crore Indian Muslims’ religious beliefs were insulted. Rather than addressing their concerns, Modi et al were more afraid of a foreign backlash. Very unfortunate."
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Sanjay Singh took to Twitter and said in Hindi, "BJP has become the cause of ruin of Indians all over the world due to its hate politics."
"Due to the politics of hate of the BJP and Narendra Modi, Indian envoys and ambassadors are being summoned, insulted and asked to apologise across the world. The BJP and its people make mistakes and India has to apologise. They get their training from Modi," AAP Rajya Sabha MP and spokesperson Sanjay Singh said during a press conference.
'BJP Took Action Only After Intl Criticism': P Chidambaram
Meanwhile, Congress leader P Chidambaram slammed the BJP, saying that it was only after the party faced international criticism that they decided to take action.
"Domestic criticism did not impel the BJP to act against the two spokespersons. It was only the international backlash that pushed the BJP to take action," he said in a tweet.
The former finance minister further said, "Mrs Nupur Sharma and Mr Naveen Kumar were not the original creators of the Islamophobia. Remember, they were trying to (be) more loyal than the king."
AAP leader and Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said that under PM Modi's leadership, "even small countries" had the courage to put pressure on India.
"Do such small countries have the courage to show their eyes to a great country like India? What has Modi ji and BJP done to the country? Today every Indian is suffering immensely, there is no limit to the sorrow," Sisodia said in a tweet in Hindi.
Grand Mufti of Oman Slams BJP Spokesperson's Remarks
On 4 June, Sheikh Al Khalili, the Grand Mufti of Oman, had tweeted, "The insolent and obscene rudeness of the official spokesman for the ruling extremist party in India against the Messenger of Islam, peace be upon him, and his pure wife, Mother of the Believers Aisha, may God be pleased with her, 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."
Referring to anti-India boycotts in the region, Mohammed Zubair, co-founder of the fact-checking website Alt News, had also posted about "stores in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain" removing Indian products as a retaliation to the statements against Prophet Muhammad.