#BoycottQatarAirways took the lead in trending Twitter hashtags earlier this month, as right-wing Hindus called for an economic boycott of the Gulf state.
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker has stated that calls in India to boycott the airline were made by “misled” people that causes no concern to the national carrier.
“It is being done by a few misled individuals and I don’t want to comment on that. Everybody is free to say whatever they want against anybody,” he told The Hindu, an Indian daily newspaper, on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Annual General Meeting in Doha.
Additionally, Al Baker’s interest in purchasing shares of IndiGo, India’s largest domestic airline, have not been diminished by the recent events, he added.
On Sunday, the top leadership of the aviation industry from around the world gathered in Doha for the International Air Transport Association IATA’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) and the World Air Transport Summit (WATS).
The three-day event is organised by Qatar Airways, and will conclude on Tuesday.
#BoycottQatarAirways took the lead in trending Twitter hashtags earlier this month, as right-wing Hindus called for an economic boycott of the Gulf state amid controversy over offensive Prophet Muhammad remarks.
This came following the sanctioning of two party spokespersons from India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for making insulting statements about the prophet.
The controversy saw the party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi caught in an international diplomatic crisis.
In a recent television debate, BJP national Spokesperson Nupur Sharma insulted the prophet and his wife Aisha. Shortly after, Sharma’s colleague, BJP’s Delhi Media Operation Chief Naveen Kumar Jindal wrote a now-deleted tweet about the prophet following a public outrage over Sharma’s statements.
The remarks have sparked protests in India, with Muslim countries summoning ambassadors as a sign of discontent.
The incident has enraged Arab social media users, who have called for a boycott of Indian products, criticised the rise in anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim sentiment, and accused India of following France and China in encouraging Islamophobia.
Consequently, #الا ـ رسول ـ الله ـ يا ـ مودي (#AnyoneButTheProphetOModi) took social media by storm, and secured the number one trend on twitter for more than two days in Qatar and neighbouring Arab states.
According to BJP papers and media sources, Sharma was suspended from the party’s main membership for statements made during the television debate, noting Jindal was also dismissed.
“The Bharatiya Janata Party is also strongly against any ideology which insults or demeans any sect or religion. The BJP does not promote such people or philosophy,” the party said. “India’s Constitution gives right to every citizen to practice any religion of his/her choice and to honour and respect every religion”.
The statement failed to address the offensive remarks or the sanctioning of the two party officials.