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After Islamists threatened strikes over anti-Muslim remarks, India tightened security

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English - Following the distribution of a letter warning of Islamist terrorist strikes to avenge disrespectful rema...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English - Following the distribution of a letter warning of Islamist terrorist strikes to avenge disrespectful remarks about the Prophet Mohammad by a member of the ruling Hindu nationalist party, India strengthened public security on Wednesday.

Several Indian media outlets circulated a letter ascribed to al Qaeda's Indian subcontinent branch (AQIS) dated June 6 in which threats were made to carry out suicide bombings in Indian states to defend the Prophet's honour, according to the letter.

Intelligence services were examining the veracity of the threats released by AQIS, according to a federal home ministry official.

A senior home ministry official in New Delhi stated, "We have also asked state police to ensure that public meetings or protests are not allowed because they could be targeted by the militant organisation."

The security concern emerged just days after a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made remarks regarding the Prophet Mohammad during a television discussion.

The words of BJP spokeswoman Nupur Sharma aroused outrage among Indian Muslims and prompted diplomatic objections from Islamic countries demanding an apology from India.

Sharma has been suspended from the party, while Naveen Kumar Jindal, another spokesman, has been removed for statements he made on social media concerning Islam.

A BJP youth leader was arrested in northern India, along with 50 other people, for making anti-Muslim comments on social media. Sharma's remarks sparked occasional rioting among minority Muslims in areas of India last week.

The insulting tweets and comments, India's foreign ministry stated on Monday, did not reflect the government's views.

Several top members of the BJP have been told to be "very cautious" when discussing religion on public platforms.

However, domestic uproar grew as leaders from Islamic countries such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan requested apologies from New Delhi and summoned diplomats to protest the comments made on television.

The remarks came in the midst of an increasingly severe culture of hatred toward Islam in India, as well as systematic harassment of Muslims, according to the influential 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Under BJP administration, India's minority Muslims have faced increased pressure on everything from freedom of worship to hijab head scarves. Following violent riots in 2019-20, there were been Hindu-Muslim skirmishes during religious processions recently.

The current dispute has turned into a diplomatic problem for Modi, who has built strong ties with energy-rich Islamic countries in recent years.

It was the first time, according to Islamic rights organizations in India, that significant foreign figures spoke out against what they considered the minority community's humiliation.

"Our voices have now been heard, but only world leaders can persuade Modi's administration and party to change their attitudes toward Muslims," said Ali Asghar Mohammed, who runs a Muslim rights organisation in India's commercial hub Mumbai.

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