India police kills 2 in protests against anti-Islam remarks
Indian police kill two Muslims, claiming they defied orders and threw broken bottles and stones during a protest against Islamophobic remarks.
Indian police shot dead two protesters and arrested more than 130 others during street rallies sparked by a ruling party official's anti-Muslim remarks about the Prophet Mohammad, authorities told AFP Saturday.
Anger has engulfed the Islamic world since last week when Nupur Sharma, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party, made derogatory comments on the relationship between the prophet and his youngest wife on a TV debate show.
Muslims took to the streets after Friday prayers in huge numbers across India and neighboring countries to condemn the Islamophobic remarks, with police firing on a crowd in the eastern city of Ranchi.
Authorities responded by cutting internet connections in the city and imposing a curfew.
Police in Uttar Pradesh fired tear gas to disperse at least one rally after several demonstrations were organized across the northern state.
Street rallies in response to anti-Islam comments
The remarks made by Nupur Sharma - the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokeswoman - have forced India into a diplomatic storm, with the governments of nearly 20 countries calling in their Indian envoys for an explanation.
The BJP announced that Sharma has been suspended from the party, while another spokesperson, Naveen Kumar Jindal, was expelled over some anti-Muslim comments he made on social media.
Friday saw the biggest street rallies yet in response to the anti-Islam comments, with police estimating more than 100,000 people mobilized across Bangladesh after midday prayers.
Another 5,000 people took to the streets in the Pakistani city of Lahore, calling on their government to take stronger action against India over the comments.
Persecution against the Muslim minority
India's Foreign Ministry had said the offensive comments did not in any way reflect the Indian government's views, while the BJP claimed that it "strongly opposes any ideology that insults or degrades any sect or religion," noting that it "does not promote such people or philosophy."
Despite such reassurances, several Indian towns and states have seen widespread and organized campaigns of persecution against the Muslim minority in recent months, backed by radical Hindus' violence.
The decision to prohibit the wearing of headscarves in schools and educational institutions, as well as the demolition of Muslim property, have all drawn widespread outrage.