Amid reports of Islamic preacher Zakir Naik’s presence in the emirate during the ongoing FIFA World Cup, India on Thursday said it has raised the issue of him being a fugitive of law with authorities in Qatar.
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said India will make every effort to make Naik face the law and continue with its efforts for his extradition.
Bagchi said the issue was not raised by Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar during his visit to Qatar to attend the inaugural ceremony of the FIFA World Cup, indicating that it was brought up through diplomatic channels.
He also made it clear that authorities in Qatar had conveyed to their Indian counterparts that no invitation was extended to Naik, who is wanted in India since 2016 for allegedly laundering money and inciting extremism through hate speeches.
Naik has taken refuge in Malaysia.
“Qatar did mention to us that no invitation was extended to Zakir Naik to attend the FIFA World Cup,” Bagchi told reporters here.
He said Naik is an accused in India and has been declared as an absconder.
“We will continue with our efforts to get him back separately,” he said. Bagchi said India has raised the issue of Naik’s extradition with the Malaysian authorities and would continue to take every step to make him face the law here.
India outlawed Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) late in 2016, on the charges of encouraging and assisting the group’s followers in “promoting or attempting to promote feelings of enmity, hatred, or ill-will between different religious communities and groups.” In March this year, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) declared IRF an unlawful association and outlawed it for five years.
Naik, who shot to fame during the 1990s over his activities of da’wah (an act of inviting or calling people to embrace Islam) through IRF, is also the founder of the ‘comparative religion’ Peace TV. The channel reportedly has a reach of over 100 million viewers, many of whom regard him as an exponent of the Salafi (a reform moment within the Sunni community) ideology.
(With inputs from PTI)
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