Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei said the Indian government "should confront extremist Hindus" and "stop the massacre of Muslims" in a sharply-worded tweet on Thursday referring to last week's violence in northeast Delhi in which 53 were killed.
"The hearts of Muslims all over the world are grieving over the massacre of Muslims in India. The government of India should confront extremist Hindus and their parties and stop the massacre of Muslims in order to prevent India's isolation from the world of Islam," Khamenei tweeted, with the hashtag #IndianMuslimslnDanger.
Earlier Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted “Iran condemns the wave of organized violence against Indian Muslims. New Delhi summoned the Islamic Republic’s ambassador and lodged a protest in response to tweet.
“We do not expect such comments from a country like Iran,” ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said in a statement later.
Khamenei, who controls all major security and foreign policy decisions, tweeted in English, Urdu, Persian and Arabic along with a photograph of a child grieving over the body of a man killed in the violence.
India had registered its strong protest earlier this week over comments by Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, calling them "unwarranted". Iranian ambassador Ali Chegeni was summoned and told that the minister's comment was on matters purely internal to India, said sources.
Last week, Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country, had summoned the Indian ambassador to express concern about the violence. The Indonesian government had said it had "complete confidence that the government of India will be able to manage the situation and ensure the harmonious relations among its religious communities".
Raveesh Kumar, the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson, had urged international leaders and bodies to not make irresponsible statements during what he called sensitive times.