Arab Boycott of Indian Products Over Defamatory Remarks


Arab Boycott of Indian Products Over Defamatory Remarks

Arab Boycott of Indian Products Over Defamatory Remarks

The Arab world has launched an online campaign to boycott all Indian products. This to reaction was to the defamatory remarks made by Nurpur Sharma, National Spoke person BJP, an Indian politician and lawyer , about the Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). On his official Twitter account, Nurpur said Remarked defamatory and blasphemous words about the Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH).

What happened?

A set of defamatory remarks about Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) made by a top official in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has resulted in India being put on notice by its trading partners. Countries including Qatar, which is already involved in a diplomatic standoff with India’s rival Pakistan, have demanded an apology from New Delhi over the remarks. Qatar has also warned that it would resort to an Arab boycott of Indian products if New Delhi does not come clean and offer an apology for its political ally’s comments. Furthermore, if India doesn’t comply with Qatar’s demands and its complaint remains unaddressed, some Arab countries may follow suit and take similar action against Indian goods.

Why is it happening?

The move came shortly after a top official in India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said Muslims should not be allowed to hold high posts like President or Prime Minister in India. Mr Tiwari, however, denied that he had made any derogatory remarks about Prophet Muhammad and called for an apology from Qatar for causing inconvenience to its people. Indians living in Qatar include labourers and professionals. The boycott could hit supply chains as well as contracts between Saudi companies and those in India. The Arab League said it would review its ties with Delhi in response to what it deemed blatant interference by New Delhi into its internal affairs, especially over Kashmir, reported news agency Press Trust of India on Monday, quoting informed sources.

Who started it?

There has been no official reaction from India yet. The remark by Swamy was condemned in India itself and his party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), distanced itself from it. It said that Swamy’s statement reflected his personal opinion and that he had not stated any official stand of BJP on it. The Hindu also removed its report about Swamy’s statement as it termed it definitely wrong to say that he was speaking for his party. But Qatar seems determined to put pressure on India even if their only demand is an apology.

Can the Saudi government do anything about it?

If a demand is made by any nation and it is not met, then Saudi Arabia can pressurize India to appease Qatar. Saudi Arabia has strong ties with many Islamic nations and they have greater influence in global affairs. Saudi Arabia can also call for an Arab boycott of all Indian products. Such a move would have serious repercussions for India’s economy, given that about 10% of India’s annual exports go to Arab nations. The effects could be felt across sectors from IT to pharmaceuticals, steel and gems & jewellery manufacturing. Given that Saudi Arabia had established itself as a gateway for financial investment into India, investors will be wary about possible disruptions in such long-term plans after taking note of rising anti-Arab sentiments among people across social media platforms.

Will this affect India’s economy?

India’s economy is poised to remain largely insulated from a potential boycott by Arab nations against its products in response to defamatory remarks about Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) made by an Indian minister, government sources said. India’s economy will suffer little, if at all, because trade with Arab nations has not been a major factor in our overall foreign trade, a senior official said. The country imports crude oil and gas from some of these countries but exports very little. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is India's seventh-largest trading partner, accounting for $8 billion in 2014-15.

Why Saudi Arabia?

This week, Qatar demanded that India issue an apology for a series of defamatory remarks made by a top official in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The official in question was addressing members of his Hindu nationalist party and had claimed that Arab traders brought Islam to India. This led to condemnation from within India, as well as neighbouring countries such as Pakistan and Indonesia. And now, Qatar has begun demanding Arab nations boycott imports from India over these comments.

Is India taking any action against these companies or individuals who have said these things?

It was only after intense pressure and diplomacy that Arab countries in general, and more specifically, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, agreed to call off their plans to boycott India's products. On one hand, they have said that they have no intention to harm or damage their relationships with India by boycotting their products. On the other hand, it has been made amply clear to them by no less than External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj that her country expects a public apology from these individuals for defaming Islam in general and the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in particular. At least till now we are not aware of any action being taken against these people or companies for spreading hatred against Islam.

How could this affect Indo-Saudi relations?

Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammad bin Salman is visiting India on a two-day tour. The Saudi crown prince, commonly referred to as MBS, will be meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other officials to bolster relations between the two countries. The call for an Arab boycott of Indian products could set back any progress made in strengthening ties between India and Gulf states. Although I certainly understand why people are so outraged over these remarks, boycotting goods from one country to teach another a lesson may have repercussions that impact innocent people and businesses on both sides.

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