Al-Qaida in the Indian subcontinent has said it plans to carry out suicide bombings in revenge for the “insulting and slandering” remarks made by leaders of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party about the prophet Muhammad and his wife, Aisha.
The Indian news agency ANI has reported that in a letter dated 6 June, AQIS – the regional branch of al-Qaida – warned that Hindu nationalist “terrorists should now await their end in Delhi and Bombay and in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat”.
It went on: “They will find refuge neither in their homes nor in their fortified army cantonments. May our mothers be bereaved of us if we do not avenge our beloved prophet.”
A diplomatic row erupted over the weekend when more than a dozen Arab countries protested against a remark made by two BJP spokespeople last month, which they found to be derogatory about the prophet.
The remark also triggered protests by Muslims in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, last week, resulting in violence and unrest.
In response, the BJP suspended one spokesperson, Nupur Sharma, expelled its Delhi media head, Naveen Kumar Jindal, and told the Muslim countries that had summoned the Indian envoy in protest that the views did not represent those of the government.
AQIS said avenging the affront was necessary because “the hearts of Muslims all over the world are bleeding and are filled with feelings of revenge and retribution”.
The terror group, formed in 2014 as an offshoot, has found some support in neighbouring Pakistan and Bangladesh but not among India’s 200 million Muslims, even though the government’s aggressive Hinduism has marginalised them and made them feel vulnerable over the eight years it has been in power.