Prophet remarks: Protests outside UP, Delhi mosques after Friday prayers
Massive protests erupted in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh's Saharanpur on Friday in response to derogatory remarks made by former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Nupur Sharma and expelled party leader Naveen Jindal about Prophet Muhammad. A huge crowd gathered outside the Jama Masjid in Delhi following the Friday prayers. Sharma and Jindal are yet to be arrested weeks after sparking a massive controversy.
Why does this story matter?
The protests come days after the BJP suspended Sharma on Sunday following considerable criticism on social media, particularly from Gulf countries. A series of hashtags began trending and demands to boycott Indian goods gained steam. Several complaints were filed against Sharma in Maharashtra and Telangana as a result of her statements. On Sunday, she apologized, stating she never meant to offend anyone's religious beliefs.
Video of Jama Masjid protest tweeted by ANI
Jama Masjid authorities didn't call protest: Shahi Imam
Meanwhile, the Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid said the mosque's authorities did not call for any protest. "We don't know who are the people protesting, I think they belong to AIMIM or are [Asaduddin] Owaisi's people. We made it clear that if they want to protest, they can, but we will not support them (sic)," he told news agency ANI.
Protests in Lucknow, Prayagraj, Deoband
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Saharanpur while businesses were forced to shut down. Protests were also reported in other cities of UP, including Lucknow, Prayagraj, and Deoband. Last week, UP's Kanpur saw clashes over the issue, which left approximately 40 people injured. Authorities in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, however, claimed there were no reports of violence in any of the locations.
Stone-pelting on police in Howrah
Protests were also held in Kolkata and Howrah, calling for Sharma's arrest. Protesters burned tires on the Howrah National Highway as they marched on it. The cops, however, evicted the demonstrators. Stone-pelting was also reported from the area after which the police were forced to use tear gas shells. As per reports, earlier on Thursday, protesters blocked the highway for nearly 12 hours.
Case filed against Sharma, Jindal, and others
On Thursday, the Delhi Police said it had filed cases against Sharma and Jindal, among others, for inciting people on social media. The action came after numerous Muslim-majority nations criticized India over statements made by both the ruling party leaders. Indian envoys were also summoned by various Gulf countries. In Gulf nations, calls for a boycott of Indian products have also reportedly increased.
What exactly did Sharma say?
During a recent debate on the Gyanvapi Mosque row on a TV channel, Sharma stated because Muslims were insulting the Hindu faith by calling the unearthed Shivling a fountain, certain aspects in their religious scriptures can also be mocked. She allegedly made a mention of Prophet Muhammad's marriage to Aisha. Her remarks sparked uproar and sharp responses from numerous religious organizations and political parties.