Zakir Naik is a controversial Islamic preacher who is the founder and president of the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF). He is also the founder of the "comparative religion" Peace TV channel through which he reaches a reported 100 million viewers. He has been called an "authority on comparative religion", "perhaps the most influential Salafi ideologue in India", and "the world's leading Salafi evangelist".
He has claimed terror and money laundering charges against him are part of anti-Muslim “persecution” in India. Naik who is wanted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on terror charges, has applied for Malaysian citizenship. The preacher is believed to have Permanent Residence status in Malaysia and has now sought its citizenship but no decision has been taken so far on his application.
Naik has been changing his base frequently after the NIA moved the Interpol for issuance of a Red Corner Notice (RCN), international arrest warrant, against him, according to agency sources. His present place of stay is unknown and it is believed that he has been shuttling between the UAE, Saudi Arabia, African and Southeast Asian countries.
According to Hindustan Times, The Interpol was approached against Naik after a year-long probe during which the NIA gathered evidence of his NGO — Islamic Research Foundation —and Peace TV, being used to allegedly promote hatred between different religious groups. His NGO is already banned and his TV channel is taken off air. Zakir Naik said that any person which is guilty is deserving punishment. He justifies chopping hands off for stealing. New York City based Gatestone Institute also had stated that Naik "is not directly involved in terrorism," but "he has reportedly inspired many to take to terrorism through his preaching.
The National Investigation Agency claimed to have found 37 properties owned by Naik and companies run by him, which are estimated to be worth more than Rs 100 crore.
As one of the reasons for refusing to return to India, Zakir names “poor conditions of Indian prisons” and “human rights violations.” He has previously said that “all Muslims should be terrorists” and famously advocates the death penalty for apostates as well as calls for Muslim countries to reject non-Muslim houses of worship.
According to freemalaysiatoday.com, it would be preposterous to assume that Muslim preachers are also money launderers or sympathizers of terrorism. Naik must face the accusations alone. He mustn’t drag other Muslim preachers down with him.
Photo Credits: AstroAwani News Malaysia