PETALING JAYA: In light of the investigations against Dr Zakir Naik by authorities in both Bangladesh and India, Muslim clerics from the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh want the popular preacher arrested, with a blanket ban on his TV network Peace TV.
The Times of India reported that prominent clerics from across Uttar Pradesh demanded a ban on Zakir Naik for his “hate” speeches.
“Zakir Naik’s activities are against Islam and Indian culture,” said Maulana Asjad Raza Khan Qadri, a cleric from the city of Bareilly.
“It has been reported that terrorists who attacked the Dhaka cafe were inspired by Naik. His speeches support terror and radicalise people. Zakir should be arrested and his channel, Peace TV, banned,” said Maulana Shahbudeen Razvi, another cleric from Bareilly.
This demand follows the revelation that some of the militants behind the recent deadly militant attack in Dhaka may have been inspired by the controversial Salafist preacher Zakir, based on their previous postings on social media.
“Back in 2008, the Uttar Pradesh government had banned Zakir’s programmes in Lucknow, Kanpur and Allahabad,” the Indian daily quoted Maulana Asjad as saying.
Zakir is the president of Dubai-based Peace TV, which has been officially banned by India since 2012 for its “anti-Indian content.”
The network is also banned in Canada, China, the United States and the United Kingdom.
However, illegal broadcasts of Peace TV are rampant in India besides access to YouTube clips of the Muslim preacher thus making it difficult to curb his influence among Muslims in the sub-continent.
Meanwhile, earlier today, the Economic Times in India reported that the Maharashtra state government was investigating Zakir’s speeches.
According to the daily, a police official from Mumbai said Zakir’s alleged terror links would be investigated thoroughly, “especially because Zakir’s ‘inspiration’ has been Ahmed Deedat, another firebrand Muslim preacher, from South Africa.”
According to the official, Ahmed Deedat is known to have previously met Osama bin Laden.
The official added that multiple teams will be formed to investigate Zakir.
“There are more than a thousand videos and other documents that will be investigated, we have formed multiple teams.”
Yesterday, India’s Home Minister Kiren Rijiju, said Zakir’s speech was a “matter of concern for us”. He said Indian federal security agencies were investigating him and going through his speeches.
He said Bangladesh would request India to take action if Zakir’s preachings were found to have instigated the attack.
Rijiju told Bangladesh’s bdnews24.com
that India would consider a ban on the preacher’s activities, “If we have a request from Dhaka to ban Zakir Naik.”
Other terror suspects, too, have pointed to Zakir as an inspiration.
Najibulla Zazi, who was arrested in 2009 for conspiring to bomb a New York subway; Kafeel Ahmed who stormed the Glasgow airport in an explosives-laden car in 2007; and Mumbai’s Rahil Sheikh who was arrested for the 7/11 serial train blasts, had earlier claimed they had followed Zakir.
The Economic Times reported that the Islamic State’s Hyderabad module head Mohammad Ibrahim Yazdani had told the National Investigation Agency, during his interrogation, that his inclination towards violent outfits working to establish Shariah law was also because of Zakir.