Why does India object to Zakir Naik’s presence in Qatar during the FIFA World Cup?

The Indian leadership was also invited to the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. But in the meantime, the presence of Islamic scholar Zakir Naik in Doha has raised many questions.

Although Qatar did not clarify whether Zakir Naik was specially invited for the World Cup, social media has been buzzing about his arrival in Qatar.

Al-Hajri, the presenter of Qatar’s official sports channel Alkas, wrote in a tweet that “Sheikh Zakir Naik is in Qatar and there he will give many religious lectures during the World Cup.”

Meanwhile, Zakir Naik has also confirmed on social media that he will give a lecture in Qatar.

In India, Zakir Naik faces serious charges of money laundering and hate speech. Therefore, their arrival in Qatar is being objected to.

Some believe that this development could have an impact on the relationship between India and Qatar. However, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs has not formally commented on this issue.

On Tuesday, India’s Petroleum Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said cautiously in Chandigarh, “I am sure India would have raised this issue.” Zakir Naik is a citizen of Malaysia.

A BJP spokesperson even said that the Indian government should boycott the FIFA World Cup.

الداعيه الشيخ ذاكر نايك يتواجد في قطر خلال فترة كأس العالم وسيقدم العديد من المحاضرات الدينية طوال المونديال 👏🏻#ذاكر_نايك

— فيصل الهاجري (@Faisal_Alhajri0) November 19, 2022

Why is India so disappointed on Zakir Naik's arrival in Qatar?

Cases have been registered against Zakir Naik in Bangladesh as well as in India on charges of hate speech and promotion of extremism.

Zakir Naik took refuge in Malaysia and is now a resident there.

The Peace TV network is banned in India, Bangladesh, Canada, Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom. Where Zakir Naik's speeches are broadcast.

Indian citizens remember very well that Indian Ambassador to Doha was summoned in protest after Nupur Sharma's controversial statement about the Prophet of Islam.

Qatar's Foreign Ministry condemned Nupur Sharma's statement. And the move to expel him from the Indian ruling party was also appreciated. Other Arab countries also demanded action from India on this issue.

Allegations on Zakir Naik in India and his controversial statement

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Zakir Naik founded Peace TV which broadcast from Dubai. He used to promote Islam and give religious statements on it. He also started broadcasting the channel in Urdu and Bangla languages.

Last year, the Indian Home Ministry extended the ban imposed on Zakir Naik's Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) in 2016 by five years.

Regarding the ban, the federal government had said that Zakir Naik's organization is involved in activities that pose a threat to national security and may harm national unity and peace.

The notification also said that Zakir Naik is inciting the youth of the country for extremist activities.

In the Anti-Terrorism Tribunal, the Solicitor General of India said that Zakir Naik reaches his followers across India through his religious speeches and incitement to violence.

The notification said that Zakir Naik and his organization IRF have set up trusts, NGOs and fake companies that collect money from Gulf countries. It was alleged that it was used to radicalize Muslim youth.

Zakir Naik has repeatedly denied the allegations and says his speeches are taken out of context.

Zakir Naik's critics say that he is highly critical of the Shia and Ahmadi communities.

In the year 2015, Zakir Naik was awarded the King Faisal International Award by Saudi Arabia for 'Service to Islam'.

Zakir Naik made several controversial statements like calling former US President George W. Bush a 'white collar terrorist'.

During an interview, The Week asked him if in a 1998 speech he had said that if Osama bin Laden was fighting against the enemies of Islam, "I'm with him."

He further says that 'if they are the biggest terrorists threatening America, then I am with them.'

In response to this question, Zakir Naik said that Osama Bin Laden was a terrorist and not a pure personality.

Meanwhile, Zakir Naik calls himself the ambassador of peace. He told The Week that he was inspired by South African salami scholar Sheikh Ahmed Deedat. His father is a psychologist while his brother is a doctor. Zakir Naik's mother wanted him to become a cardiologist.

He said that after meeting Deedat, when he asked his mother what he should become, her answer was that she wanted to see him as both a religious scholar and a doctor.

After completing his studies in medicine, Zakir Naik started da'wah to Islam in 1990 through IRF.

He was born in Mumbai and stuttered as a child. But now they easily make long speeches. Zakir Naik became famous in the nineties due to his lectures. During the year 2000, his speeches in which he compared Islam and other religions and argued that Islam is a better religion came into the public eye.

In 2016, 29 people were killed in a terrorist attack in Bangladesh. According to the investigators, the alleged assailant had told after his arrest that he was inspired by Zakir Naik's speeches.

Zakir Naik's organization IRF was banned after an initial investigation by the Mumbai Police's Special Branch.

Zakir Naik had left India for Malaysia and was declared a fugitive by the Indian government.

In 2019, 250 people were killed in an Easter bombing in Sri Lanka. This time, similar allegations were made against Zakir Naik. His channel was also blocked in Sri Lanka.

Zakir Naik is now a permanent resident of Malaysia but is not allowed to preach there.

Can India do anything about Zakir Naik's visit to Qatar?

Former Ambassador of India to Qatar KP Fabian has said that this is a sensitive matter and in view of the relations between the two countries, it is not so easy for India to raise this matter before Qatar.

He told news agency ANI that the relationship between India and Qatar should be kept in mind. Eight lakh Indian citizens live there. We also get LNG from there.

Many of our companies work there. Keeping this in mind, we should not give so much importance to this matter.

Farhad Safi
Sharing insights and perspectives on the stories that matter.

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