‘Not Enough’: Hamid Ansari on Union govt’s response to Prophet backlash

Ansari added that it was the duty of the Prime Minister to respond when the issue first surfaced.

Former Indian Vice-President Hamid Ansari pointed out that the Indian government’s reaction to the ongoing backlash by the Islamic countries over the “blasphemous” statements on Prophet Muhammad made by the suspended Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokespersons was “not enough”.

Before being elected as the vice president of India, Ansari, who also served as a diplomat and worked in some of these Muslim nations, told NDTV that the Indian ambassadors’ response to the entire episode as merely terming it as “fringe elements” is not enough and the government should have dealt it in a political level.

“For the embassy to issue statements is not enough. It is not enough for the official spokesperson to issue a clarification. This should have been dealt with at an appropriate political level,” he told NDTV in an exclusive interview.

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Indian envoys were summoned by the Arab countries such as Qatar, UAE, Turkey, Bahrain, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Iraq, Oman, Jordan, Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Gulf Cooperation Council and many others condemning the statements made by Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal against Prophet Muhammad.

This created a huge embarrassment to the nation which then had to issue a statement saying the party considers the statements made by “fringe elements” and it is “strongly against any ideology which insults or demeans any sect or religion.

Ansari added that it was the duty of the Prime Minister to respond when the issue first surfaced. “The Prime Minister could have diffused the issue but no one thought it fit to do this at an appropriate time,” he said. Asked what would have been suitable for the Prime Minister to say, Ansari said, “The PM knows what to say. I don’t have to tell him what to do or what to say.”

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has 52 member countries of the Gulf which are a big deal when it comes to voting in the United Nations.

“So it is not a question of a particular country taking opposition which offends us. It is a question of 52 members of the United Nations taking opposition on a matter in which there was an uncalled-for intervention by the spokesperson of a particular party,” Ansari said.

Ansari further added that such a backlash would not be possible if there was a common sentiment running between the countries.

“This is not a matter of an individual. It affects a community of a particular faith… if it affects every Muslim on the globe then such a reaction is bound to happen. This is inevitable,” Ansari added.

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