Gulf countries will now have a much harder time ignoring the Indian “fringe”
While the Gulf Arabs nations rarely react to national events and controversies in India, an attack on the prophet of Islam and his wife Aisha is a red line. The GCC governments’ chorus of protests followed a forceful statement by Ahmed Al Khalili, the grand mufti of Oman and a noted scholar of Islam, who described the BJP as an “extremist party” and called on Muslims to rise as one nation.
Second, the swift action of these governments, it seems, was also aimed at containing anger and preventing it from spreading from the Arab digital space to workplaces and neighborhoods after Nupur clips aired. Sharma on social media.
These nations host a large population of foreign workers and take extra precautions to ensure social harmony by discouraging attempts to bring about domestic politics or rivalries from their home country with other nations.
Third, despite a direct attack on the Prophet of Islam by members of the ruling BJP office, Arab countries have carefully worded their statements of condemnation, hailed the suspension of Nupur Sharma and avoided causing embarrassment to the government. Indian.
The challenge before India‘s political and foreign establishment must prevent the recurrence of these incidents; and ensure that individuals aligned with the ruling party do not engage in defamation against symbols of Islam.
Indian diplomats attributed the remarks to “fringe” elements and cited the strength of India’s democracy which allows for the free exchange of ideas. However, diplomats who have spoken to me about this crisis are aware of the limitations of such efforts in the absence of the Indian government‘s ability or intention to stop news channels from spreading hate.
The Arab nations of the Gulf host the largest Indian diaspora; of the approximately 18 million Indians living abroad, about 7 million live and work in GCC countries. This Indian expatriate population includes Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jains and Sikhs. They are their nation’s most powerful ambassadors and their public conduct and social media activities contribute to the Arab perception of India. In the past, several Indian nationals, including a Michelin-starred chef, lost their jobs and were expelled from GCC countries after making offensive remarks against Islam or Muslims.
Much of India’s electronic media is seen as a powerful ally of Modi and protective of his image, promoting him as a Hindutva icon and pushing a narrative that has delivered handsome electoral gains to the prime minister and his party. But statements on television can also tarnish India’s image.
It would be a colossal mistake to consider these diplomatic fallouts in isolation. Incidents in recent years, such as verbal and physical attacks on Muslims, have been commented on social and mainstream media in the Arab world. Today, thanks to growing ties and the presence of a large diaspora, Arab citizens and government officials closely follow events and understand Indian politics.
(Bobby Naqvi is a former Gulf News editor and senior journalist based in Dubai)