Prime Minister Narendra Modi has rejected demands to fire a government minister whose derogatory comments against Muslims have led to a furor that has shut down the Indian Parliament for four days.

Junior minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti told a public rally in New Delhi that those who do not follow the Hindu god Ram were "bastards."

Opposition lawmakers want her removed from the council of ministers on the grounds that her comments went against India's secular constitution.

Modi has called the remarks unacceptable, but has refused to fire her. He appealed to lawmakers Friday to let Parliament function.

Muslims make up more than 13 percent of India's population. They have been wary of the overwhelming majority won by Modi's Hindu fundamentalist party in general elections held in May.