US says it encourages India to promote respect for human rights
Ned Price

Washington: The US has said it condemns the controversial remarks made by two now-suspended BJP functionaries against Prophet Mohammad and encourages India to promote respect for human rights.

The BJP on June 5 suspended its national spokesperson Nupur Sharma and expelled its Delhi media head Naveen Kumar Jindal after their controversial remarks against the Prophet.

Amid protests by several Muslim countries and groups over the remarks, the party also issued a statement aimed at assuaging the concerns of minorities and distancing itself from these members, asserting that it respects all religions and strongly denounces the insult of any religious personality.

“Well, this is something that we’ve condemned. We condemn the offensive comments made by two BJP officials, and we were glad to see that the party publicly condemned those comments,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at his daily news conference on Thursday.

He was responding to a question by a Pakistani reporter.

“We regularly engage with the Indian government at senior levels on human rights concerns, including freedom of religion or belief,” he said.

“We encourage India to promote respect for human rights. The Secretary (of State) said, when he was in New Delhi last year, that the Indian people and the American people believe in the same values: human dignity, human respect, equality of opportunity, and the freedom of religion or belief,” Price said.

He was referring to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to India in July last year.

“These are fundamental tenets,” Price said.

“These are fundamental values within any democracy, and we speak up for them around the world,” Price said.

The Ministry of External Affairs has said that India accords the highest respect to all religions.

The offensive tweets and comments denigrating a religious personality were made by certain individuals. They do not, in any manner, reflect the views of the Government of India. Strong action has already been taken against these individuals by relevant bodies, the MEA Spokesperson said in New Delhi recently.

Countries like Kuwait, Qatar, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, the Maldives, UAE, Jordan, Bahrain, Oman and Afghanistan were among the several Muslim nations that have condemned the offensive remarks against the Prophet.

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