NEW DELHI: After hue and cry on Mumbai Cleric Dr Zakir Naik, government will study his speeches. Days after 20 hostages were killed in a cafe in Dhaka, the government is looking into whether controversial preacher Dr Zakir Naik, through his speeches, not only justifies but glorifies terrorist acts by Muslims, conveying tacit support to the Islamic State or ISIS.
Bangladesh has said that Dr Naik, whose sermons on television and online draw large audiences across the world, inspired two of the seven young terrorists that opened fire on Friday night, sparing those who could recite the Quran, and hacking others to death with machetes.
Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu today said that the government will study Dr Naik’s speeches. “The Home Ministry will study and take a decision,” Mr Naidu said.
The 50-year-old televangelist, who pairs suits with a skullcap in his broadcasts, has been banned from entering the UK and Canada for incendiary remarks that have included a loose defense of Osama Bin Laden.
After the Dhaka attack stunned the world with the scale of its atrocity, and the ISIS claimed responsibility, Dr Naik, who is on a religious trip abroad, publicly condemned ISIS, describing it as “Un-islamic”. He also claimed that his speeches are often doctored to distort his comments.
Trained as a medical doctor, the radical preacher has won hefty awards in countries like Dubai and Saudi Arabia where he has been honoured for his “contribution to Islam”. His supporters say he cannot be accused of urging terror strikes, though he forcefully defends his religion and ultra conservative tenets. His satellite TV channel, Peace India, is banned in India. His Islamic Research Foundation, based in Mumbai, is described on its website as a charitable organization committed to “the proper presentation, understanding and appreciation of Islam, as well as removing misconceptions about Islam – amongst less aware Muslims and non-Muslims”.
The ruling BJP today attacked the Congress over a video of its senior leader, Digivjaya Singh, sharing a hug and the stage with Dr Naik at an event to promote communal harmony. The Congressman is seeing praising the preacher. He tweeted today that the government must act against the religious leader “if there is evidence against him”.