India's Modi to visit UAE amid diplomatic row over Islamophobic remarks
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is planning to visit the United Arab Emirates later this month, according to local media, just weeks after the Gulf state reacted strongly against derogatory remarks made by now-suspended ruling party officials against Prophet Muhammad.
The visit will likely be part of a trip to Germany where Modi will take part in the G7 summit, scheduled from 26 to 28 June at Schloss Elmau in the Bavarian Alps.
Scoop: Indian PM Modi to travel to UAE this month. Visit part of his Germany visit. Reporting: https://t.co/5NN5kwFmSj— Sidhant Sibal (@sidhant) June 11, 2022
Several Muslim majority countries, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Indonesia and the UAE had expressed their disapproval over BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s inflammatory comments against the prophet on live television on 27 May.
Sharma was suspended by Modi's party, the BJP, after the international outcry against her a week later.
According to sources, the UAE’s statement was not as harsh as those issued by some other countries, nor did it summon India’s envoy.
India has close relations with the UAE. There is a large number of Indians living in the Emirates, and Abu Dhabi has emerged as New Delhi’s closest partner in the Gulf. The two countries signed a free trade agreement earlier this year, which will cover several sectors including defence and energy.
The BJP may have bowed to international pressure by suspending Sharma, but the party continues to antagonise and penalise the country’s Muslim population, many of whom protested against her remarks.
The police have reacted to these demonstrations with a heavy hand, allegedly killing two people and arresting hundreds more. Over the past few days, authorities have also bulldozed the homes of several individuals linked with organising or taking part in the demonstrations under the pretext that they are "illegal structures."