South Asia protests over prophet remarks by India’s BJP officials

Thousands of Muslims have rallied across the South Asia nations of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan over derogatory remarks on Prophet Muhammad by two officials from India’s ruling party that has triggered a diplomatic backlash against New Delhi.

Protests were reported from various Indian cities, including capital New Delhi, on Friday as Muslims marched after the afternoon congregation prayers, raising slogans against the government and calling for the arrest of the members belonging to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Anger has been growing in India and Muslim-majority nations across the world since last week, when two BJP officials – spokeswoman Nupur Sharma and Delhi media cell head Naveen Kumar Jindal – made comments seen as insulting Islam’s prophet and his wife Aisha.

The BJP suspended Sharma and expelled Jindal, saying it denounces insults of religious figures. The right-wing party also asked its spokespersons to be “extremely cautious” on religious matters in primetime “debates” on Indian news channels.

Police in New Delhi on Thursday filed cases against the two BJP members and others – including a Muslim parliamentarian and journalist – for “inciting hatred” and other charges.

But India’s Muslims, who are facing a sharp rise

in Islamophobia and attacks on them since Modi came to power in 2014, say those actions are not enough.

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