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India ruling party lawmaker arrested for Prophet comments

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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 neighbours when she commented on the relationship between Mohammed and his youngest wife on a TV debate programme.

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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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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