Online campaigns calling for a boycott of Indian products have spread in several Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain. In response to statements by the spokesman for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Nupur Sharma, who insulted the Prophet Muhammad in a televised debate.
Many Twitter users in these countries, including the Grand Mufti of Oman, called for a mass boycott of Indian products in the Middle East. Several stores in Arab countries have reportedly removed Indian products after the controversy.
It is known that supermarkets in Kuwait have been pulling Indian products from their shelves since Tuesday local time. Workers at the Al-Ardiya Co-Operative Society store in Kuwait were seen piling Indian teas and other Indian products in trolleys in protest against the Islamophobic comments.
In another supermarket outside Kuwait City, sacks of rice and shelves of Indian spice and chili products were covered with a sheet of plastic. An inscription in Arabic reads “We have moved Indian products” on the plastic cover.
When interviewed by AFP, the CEO of the supermarket said that as a Muslim, Kuwaiti did not accept insults against Hazrat Muhammad SAW. Meanwhile, an official at a local supermarket chain said a broad boycott of Indian products is currently being considered.
In further criticism of Indian officials, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the umbrella group for the six Gulf states, has also stated that they condemn, reject, and denounce inappropriate comments.
India has close trade relations with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which includes Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE, which value reaches US$ 87 billion in 2020-2021.
Although the Indian Ambassador has explained that Sharma does not represent the state government, it appears that Sharma’s comments describing the relationship between the Prophet Muhammad and his wife, Aisyah, have further worsened the image of PM Modi’s party, which is often criticized for alleged discrimination against the country’s Muslim minority.
The latest reported discrimination case is the ban on wearing the hijab in schools and universities in the Karnataka region.