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US Condemns BJP Leaders' Comments on Prophet, Encourages India To Promote Respect for Human Rights

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

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New Delhi: The US has condemned the allegedly offensive remarks made against Prophet Muhammad by two BJP members, the state department said, adding that the country encourages India to promote respect for human rights.

“We’ve condemned the offensive comments made by two BJP functionaries, and we were glad to see that the party publicly condemned their statements,” state department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at his daily news conference on Thursday.

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

He was responding to a question by a Pakistani reporter.

“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 alleged insulting statements, made by Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal, have led to an unprecedented diplomatic backlash, especially from West Asian countries. The BJP has suspended Sharma and expelled Jindal.

The Ministry of External Affairs has said that India accords the highest respect to all religions and that the comments made by the BJP leaders do not reflect the views of the Government of India.

Comments discussed at India-ASEAN meet

The controversy was also discussed “informally” at an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-India meeting on Thursday, Singapore’s foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan said, describing the issue as “a delicate subject”.

(With PTI inputs)