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UN stays neutral on Prophet Muhammad row in India

Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General.

The United Nations Secretary General’s office has decided to stay neutral in the controversy following the Prophet Mouhammad row in India, which has evoked a strong response in some major countries in the world. 

“I've seen stories. I haven't seen the remarks themselves, but I mean, regardless, I can tell you that we strongly encourage respect and tolerance for all religions,” Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson of UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres, said at a press conference,

Dujarric  was responding to a question by a Pakistani journalist over the condemnation by several Muslim countries on the comments by former Bhartiya Janata Party members Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal.

The UN response is in tune with the New Delhi’s  position on the issue as articulated by the Indian embassy in Qatar.

In response to the two anti-Islamic tweets posted on social media in India, the Indian Embassy in Doha said Ambassador Dipak Mittal has conveyed that the "tweets do not, in any manner, reflect the views of the Government of India. These are the views of fringe elements".

The embassy also said that the Indian government accords the “highest respect to all religions” in line with the country's "civilisational heritage and strong cultural traditions of unity in diversity".

“Strong action has already been taken against those who made derogatory remarks. A statement has also been issued by concerned quarters emphasising respect for all religions, denouncing insult to any religious personality or demeaning any religion or sect,” the spokesperson of Indian embassy in Doha said.

The embassy also said that "vested interests" that are against India – Qatar relations have been inciting the people using these derogatory comments. "We should work together against such mischievous elements who aim to undercut the strength of our bilateral ties," it stressed.

Also Read: India informs Qatar that two anti-Islamic tweets were job of fringe elements, action has been taken against them

On Monday, taking  note of the statements and comments from the Pakistani PM Shehbaz Sharif and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad, New Delhi reminded Islamabad today that the world has been witness to the systemic persecution of minorities including Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Ahmadiyyas by Pakistan.

"The Government of India accords the highest respect to all religions. This is quite unlike Pakistan where fanatics are eulogized and monuments built in their honour," said the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi in a statement on Monday.

"We call on Pakistan to focus on the safety, security and well-being of its minority communities instead of engaging in alarmist propaganda and attempting to foment communal disharmony in India," he added.

In Doha, the ambassador had a meeting in the Foreign Office in which Qatar raised concerns over the offensive remarks of the BJP office-bearers Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal. While Sharma remains suspended, Jindal has been expelled from the BJP.

The development came shortly after the BJP suspended Sharma from the party over her alleged derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad. The party also expelled Jindal, who heads its Delhi media, over his alleged communal remarks.