Mumbai: Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) chief Zakir Naik has dubbed the ban on his non-governmental organisation (NGO) as ‘unfortunate’ and alleged that this move of the ‘anti-Muslim’ BJP-led NDA government is politically motivated.
Naik told ANI that the ban would be challenged as soon as possible, adding that his legal team in Delhi and Mumbai are considering all options possible.
Responding to a poser as to why he blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government for the ban and not British Prime Minister Theresa May, Naik said, “I am not banned in the UK. I have been ‘excluded’, which means I cannot enter UK. A ban would have meant banning my speeches on television, my NGO as well as my books, audio and video CDs. None of that has happened. My organization and my published materials are very much in circulation in UK and doing some commendable work in spreading the message of peace in Islam.”
Naik, however, maintained that even the exclusion in the United Kingdom was politically motivated as when the Labour Party was in power the head of Counter Terrorism had sent a senior officer to request him to help them to reach those Muslims whom they felt were misguided.
“In fact, for my work spanning over two decades and even after being excluded from UK in 2010 I have been awarded some of the highest civilian awards by several countries like Malaysia, Dubai, Sharjah and Gambia including the King Faisal Prize for Service to Islam by King Salman of Saudi Arabia which is the most prestigious award of the Islamic World similar to the Nobel Prize for Peace. My talks continue to attract lakhs of people from all communities,” he added.
Expressing grief, Naik said that he has been banned in his homeland India despite attracting hundreds of thousands of audience for several years.
“Imagine I was invited twice in the last few years before the Modi government came to power to the National Police Academy in Hyderabad which is the most prestigious training institute for Indian Police to address the IPS officers. Most of the officers I addressed may yet be in service. Do you mean to say that this prestigious institution invited a person who promotes terrorism to address the IPS officers? This ban is truly unfortunate and undoubtedly politically motivated,” he added.
Expressing confidence, Naik said he is positive that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) would after a thorough research realise that he is far away from promoting terrorism.
“In UK where the Counter Terrorism head disagreed with the exclusion but had to give in to the then Home Secretary… here in India too, I am positive that the officers in NIA and other departments after doing thorough research for more than four months may have surely realized that I am far away from promoting terrorism have no choice but to give in to the political pressures,” he said.
“More unfortunately, it is also indicative of the grim state of affairs existing in my beloved homeland since the Modi government took over two-and-a-half years ago,” he added.
Escalating his attack on the Centre, Naik stated that one needs to look at these allegations from a political viewpoint, adding it all began when the Modi government took charge.
“Most of my statements quoted for banning me have been made by me 8 to 18 years ago. One needs to look at these allegations from a political viewpoint. These allegations started when the current Modi government took over and that says a lot of things,” he added.
Responding to a poser whether the BJP-led NDA government is anti-Muslim, Naik said the last decade and a half has several evidences of the Prime Minister’s anti-Muslim behaviour and actions, adding the most recent one is the banning of IRF while the likes of Rajeshwar Singh, Yogi Adityanath and Sadhvi Prachi flourished under him.
“I don’t think. I know it is anti-Muslim. But why ask me? Ask the hundreds of millions of Indians who will tell you that Modi is anti-Muslim and that makes him a danger to the Indian democracy,” he asserted.