BJP’s Prophet Remarks

Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) threatened to carry out attacks across India after leaders of the Hindu-nationalist ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), made controversial statements about Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. AQIS called for attacks in Mumbai, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and Delhi. While the BJP suspended the two spokespeople responsible for the insulting statements, protests erupted throughout South Asia, as many have grown weary of the Modi government’s consistent othering of India’s Muslim population. The statements and the BJP’s subsequent response to them faced international criticism and condemnation, posing a large threat to India’s diplomatic and economic relations with several key partners.

Key Judgement 1: It is highly likely that the BJP will use the threats by AQIS to justify future Islamophobic and insular policies; this instance will deepen preexisting religious polarisation in the country.

  • While the BJP condemned the comments, it claimed to be “strongly against any ideology that demeans any sect or religion.” Considering the party’s targeted policies against Muslims, including the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens, this statement is demonstrably false.  (source)
  • Authorities across Uttar Pradesh have demolished several Muslim-owned homes following ongoing protests against the BJP. Local authorities claim the houses were “illegally constructed,” a claim denied by the homeowners, all of whom were involved with the protests. Opposition leaders accused the state of targeting the Muslim-minority community and unconstitutionally silencing protesters. (source)

Key Judgement 2: It is highly likely that protests against the BJP will turn even more violent in the coming weeks.

  • Thousands of people across South Asia, including Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India, have rallied together to protest against the BJP’s remarks. They are also protesting the Modi government’s polarizing policies.
  • Dozens of protesters were injured and two teenagers were killed as police cracked down on protests in Delhi. Eyewitnesses report that the protests have turned violent after Hindu-led counterprotests began. (source)
  • Many states in India face widespread internet and cellular suspensions during protests. Authorities in Kashmir have already suspended mobile phone services and deployed security forces to quell protests. In some states, police have wielded batons against demonstrators and fired tear gas into crowds. (source)

Key Judgement 3: It is highly likely that these remarks will lead to diplomatic tensions between India and Muslim-majority countries.

  • Many governments around the world have condemned the BJP’s comments, describing them as “insulting.”
  • The government of Qatar demanded an official apology from the government of India, and accused it promoting “dangerous levels” of Islamophobia and inciting “cycles of violence and hate.” (source)
  • Similarly, the foreign ministry of Kuwait called for the Indian ambassador to Kuwait to reject and condemn his government’s statements. The Grand Mufti of Oman called the BJP an “extremist party” and condemned Modi’s government for “insolent and obscene rudeness.”  (source)
  • There are calls for complete boycotts of Indian goods in the Gulf region, which includes India’s most strategic and important trading partners. India relies on the Gulf region for oil imports, remittance inflows, and strategic access to Afghanistan and Central Asia. (source)

Intelligence Cut-Off Date: June 13, 2022

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