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India Summons Iran Envoy Over FM's Condemnation Of Violence Against Muslims

People mourn next to the body of Muddasir Khan, who was wounded in a clash between people demonstrating for and against a new citizenship law, after he succumbed to his injuries, in a riot-affected area in New Delhi, February 27, 2020

India on Tuesday summoned the Iranian ambassador in Dehli over Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif's tweet in condemnation of "organized violence against Indian Muslims" and lodged a strong protest.

According to the Times of India, officials said Ali Chegeni, the Iranian Ambassador to Dehli, was told that "Zarif commented on a matter which is purely internal to India“.

In the meeting with the Political Director-General of the Indian Foreign Ministry the Iranian ambassador reassured the Indian official that he would convey the message to Tehran and “expressed hope that peace and friendship will be established among all Indian citizens under the protection of law and assurance of the rights of all,” the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) reported.

In a tweet on Monday Mohammad-Javad Zarif said Iran "condemns the wave of organized violence against Indian Muslims".

"For centuries, Iran has been a friend of India. We urge Indian authorities to ensure the wellbeing of ALL Indians & not let senseless thuggery prevail. Path forward lies in peaceful dialogue and rule of law," the Iranian Foreign Minister's tweet said.

Zarif's comments came days after deadly riots were triggered by a citizenship law that excludes Muslims. Hundreds were injured and shops, houses, mosques, and schools were burned during the clashes between Hindu hardliners and Muslims protesting the policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

The citizenship law fast-tracks naturalization of religious minorities from neighboring countries but excludes Muslims.

The riots that erupted on 23 February on the eve of President Donald Trump’s state visit to India and lasted for several days have claimed 46 lives according to Indian officials. Most of the dead and injured were Muslims, with thousands fleeing their homes in fear, AP reported on Monday.

The violence is the latest in a long line of communal clashes that date to the British partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, when the country was split into secular, Hindu-majority India and the Islamic state of Pakistan.