A supermarket just outside Kuwait City has boycotted Indian goods in protest over insulting remarks made by officials from India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

Gulf countries are big importers of produce from India, with Kuwait importing 95 percent of its food according to the trade minister.
Gulf countries are big importers of produce from India, with Kuwait importing 95 percent of its food according to the trade minister. (Reuters Archive)

A Kuwaiti supermarket has pulled Indian products from its shelves over insulting remarks about Islam's Prophet Muhammad made by two officials of India's ruling right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Workers at the Al Ardiya Co-Operative Society store piled Indian tea and other products into trolleys on Monday in a protest against comments denounced as "Islamophobic".

At the supermarket just outside Kuwait City, sacks of rice and shelves of spices and chilies were covered with plastic sheets. Printed signs in Arabic read: "We have removed Indian products".

"We, as a Kuwaiti Muslim people, do not accept insulting the Prophet," Nasser  al Mutairi, CEO of the store, said. An official at the chain said a company-wide boycott was being considered.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other countries in the region, as well as the influential Al Azhar University in Cairo, have condemned the insulting remarks against the Prophet and his wife Ayesha in a TV debate by a spokesperson for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party, Nupur Sharma, who has since been suspended.

Another BJP spokesperson and the party's Delhi media head Naveen Kumal Jindal was expelled from the right-wing party over comments he made about Prophet Muhammad on Twitter.

READ MORE: India faces uproar after ruling BJP officials insult Prophet Muhammad

'Remarks contrary to humanitarian values'

The United Arab Emirates became the latest country to voice its condemnation of the remarks, saying they were "contrary to moral and humanitarian values and principles."

The UAE's foreign ministry underlined the "need for respecting religious symbols... and countering hate speech", state news agency WAM reported.

In further criticism of the Indian official, the Gulf Cooperation Council, an umbrella group for the six Gulf countries, "condemned, rejected and denounced" her comments.

Gulf countries are a major destination for India's overseas workers, accounting for 8.7 million out of a worldwide total of 13.5 million, Indian foreign ministry figures show. They are also big importers of produce from India and elsewhere, with Kuwait importing 95 percent of its food according to the trade minister.

The controversial remarks follow increasing violence targeting India’s Muslim minority carried out by Hindu nationalists who have been emboldened by Modi's regular silence about such attacks since he was first elected in 2014.

Over the years, Indian Muslims have often been targeted for everything from their food and clothing style to inter-religious marriages. Rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have warned that attacks could escalate.

They have also accused Modi’s governing party of looking the other way and sometimes enabling hate speech against Muslims, who comprise 14 percent of India’s 1.4 billion people but are still numerous enough to be the second-largest Muslim population of any nation.

Modi's party denies the accusations, but India's Muslims say attacks against them and their faith have increased sharply.

READ MORE: Putin: Insulting Prophet Muhammad is not freedom of expression

Source: AFP