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India ruling party lawmaker arrested for Prophet comments

The arrest of T Raja Singh in Telangana state comes months after his party suspended a spokeswoman for similar comments
Muslim activists take part in a unity rally to promote communal harmony in Kolkata on June 14 following nationwide protests that erupted after remarks about the Prophet Muhammad by a BJP spokesperson

Muslim activists take part in a unity rally to promote communal harmony in Kolkata on June 14 following nationwide protests that erupted after remarks about the Prophet Muhammad by a BJP spokesperson. (Photo: AFP)

Published: August 24, 2022 07:23 AM GMT

Indian police arrested a ruling party lawmaker on Tuesday for allegedly making derogatory comments against the Prophet Mohammed, weeks after similar remarks from a top official embroiled the country in a diplomatic storm.

Raja Singh's words sparked outrage in the southern city of Hyderabad, where hundreds of people gathered on Monday night to demand the state politician be taken into custody.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member, who has cultivated a reputation for inflammatory speeches, had the same day published a video that local media reports said had made insulting remarks about the Islamic prophet.

A senior Telangana state police officer confirmed Singh's early Tuesday arrest to AFP.

Singh's remarks were part of a broader tirade against Munawar Faruqui, a popular Muslim comedian harassed and threatened by Hindu nationalists for his religious subject matter.

Faruqui performed in Hyderabad last week. Singh had earlier threatened to burn down the venue, the news website India Today reported.

His arrest comes weeks after a prominent BJP spokesperson ignited protests across India and its neighbors when she commented on the relationship between Mohammed and his youngest wife on a TV debate program.

Nupur Sharma was suspended from the party's ranks in June after her remarks prompted the governments of nearly 20 countries to call in their Indian envoys for an explanation.

Two people were killed in clashes between police and Muslim protesters the same month, while two Muslim men were arrested for the gruesome murder of a Hindu tailor who had posted on social media in support of Sharma.

India's top court last month slammed Sharma for having "set the country on fire."

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