HE may not be globally famous as (the late) Osama bin Laden but wanted Islamic televangelist Zakir Naik has denied breaking any Indian laws and stated that he’s simply being targeted by the “enemies of Islam” because of his work.
Naik is wanted in India for hate speech and money laundering and the highly-popular preacher, banned in Britain, has sought refuge in Malaysia after fleeing from Indian investigative agencies.
In the eyes of the Indian authorities, Naik, 53, through the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) that he founded, has been “promoting enmity and hatred between different religious groups in India through public speeches and lectures”.
Living in Malaysia, where he has permanent residency, since India started investigating him, he has kept a low profile over the past year amid criticism that he is a threat to peace in multi-ethnic Malaysia.
But he’s stirred the hornet’s nest once again: In his latest Saturday speech in Kangar, capital of the north Malaysian state of Perlis, he reiterated that he had never broken any Indian law.
“But because I was spreading peace, I was giving solution for humanity, all the people who don’t like peace to prevail, they don’t like me,” he said, adding he was being targeted because of his work to spread Islam.
“This doesn’t go down (well with) the enemies of Islam. Be it western countries or the country I was born in, India.”
Naik has been controversial because of his puritan brand of Islam – recommending the death penalty for homosexuals and those who abandon Islam as their faith, according to media reports.
In a clip on Youtube, Naik says that if Osama bin Laden “is terrorising America the terrorist, the biggest terrorist, I am with him”.
Bangladesh suspended a television channel that featured his preachings after media reported that militants who attacked a Dhaka cafe killing 22 people last year were admirers of him.
SAFE IN MALAYSIA
To his advantage, Naik is known to be close to officials in the previous Malaysian administration, which was unexpectedly defeated in a May general election. New Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad said as long as Naik was not creating any problems in Malaysia, he would not be deported.
Indian media has regularly reported that India has sought his extradition.
He was barred from entering Britain in 2010 but he continues to broadcast to millions of British households through his personal television channel, ironically named ‘Peace TV’, it has been reported.
Naik was banned by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary after he praised Osama and said “all Muslims should be terrorists”.
May, now the British Prime Minister, then said: “Numerous comments made by Dr Naik are evidence to me of his unacceptable behaviour. Coming to the United Kingdom is a privilege, not a right and I am not willing to allow those who might not be conducive to the public good to enter the UK.”
For Naik, he believes he’s quite a holy preacher who has never broken any Indian law. He always claims he’s spreading peace, and in the process draws more enemies than friends.