By NEWS KING | INNLIVE
Controversial Islamic preacher, Zakir Naik, who had cancelled his return to India on Monday and said he will do a Skype press meet from Saudi Arabia, has changed the plan again.
Naik will leave for a tour of African countries in the next few weeks. This, when a host of investigative agencies in India, including the National Investigative Agency (NIA), is probing Naik's speeches based on allegations that the preacher influenced Islamic terrorists in India and abroad through his talks.
Naik had earlier planned to hold a press conference in Mumbai after returning on Monday. Naik later cancelled the meet and said he'll address the press through Skype from Saudi Arabia. But, even the Skype meet is cancelled now and Naik has decided to leave for African countries either tonight or tomorrow, a person close to Naik told INNLIVE on Monday. "Dr Naik has rescheduled engagements in a few African countries for which he is leaving tonight or tomorrow and will be busy for a few weeks," the source told INNLIVE.
Naik's decision not to return to India despite the nature of charges raised against him had instantly prompted the Indian media to say that Naik is dodging police. The preacher, who describes himself as an expert on comparative religion and Islam, is probably concerned about legal action against him the moment he lands in the airport. The preacher has actually made the plot even more complex by his reluctance to face the media and even the cancellation of his Skype meet.
But, as INNLIVE noted earlier, there is no serious charge against the suave, English-speaking preacher from Dongri in Mumbai, beyond possible charges of hurting religious sentiments.
There isn't any strong evidence of Naik's terror-links beyond the charge that he has inspired Dhaka and Hyderabad terrorists linked to the Islamic state. Even when Naik advocates the false notion of religious supremacy, the merits of Taliban-like social codes, offers a defence of Osama Bin Laden, pledges allegiance to Islamic terrorists, argues against girls' education and the LGBT community, he has been doing it through carefully-worded and clever caveats. Naik's allegiance to terrorism before the camera isn't unconditional. So, in a way, Naik, has always played safe not to get entangled in legal charges.
But, Naik's reluctance to face the charges on home land, however, can change the scenario and raise more suspicion. Even within the Muslim community, many Indian clerics have begun speaking against Naik, saying he is misinterpreting Quran. The only support he has received so far, despite the claim of his millions of followers internationally, is from some members of Samajwadi party and Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), who have argued in support of Naik. "Naik is an advocate of peace theory in Islam.
The action by the authorities against the Islamic preacher is a violation of the freedom of expression. He is being harassed for no valid reason," said E T Mohammed Basheer, IUML MP and a former minister in the state, at a presser on Sunday. "The probe against Naik is being carried out in a prejudiced manner," Basheer alleged and demanded that authorities stop harassing the preacher.
Internationally too, Naik may not have too many supporters except in Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia. Even Bangladesh has banned Naik's 'Peace TV' in that country, while India too has imposed some restrictions on the channel and the NGO run by Naik-Islamic Research Foundation (IRF). When the heat increased on him every minute, Naik had now attempted to distance himself from the terror-related controversies, responding through a series of videos shot in Medina.
In the videos, Naik said he isn't shocked to see the media reports linking him with Dhaka terrorists. "I appear on various TV channels. In Peace TV network alone I have more than 100 million viewers. By the grace of God, I inspire millions of people around the world. On my personal Facebook page alone there are more than 14 million likes, of which majority is from Bangladesh. A person inspired by my videos is not shocking," Naik said.
Naik has been preaching for years. But, his name has surfaced only now in this fashion after the Bangladesh attacks and after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) busted an Islamic State module in Hyderabad. In both cases, the accused (Rohan Imtiaz and Ibrahim Yazdani respectively) have confessed to the investigators that they were 'inspired' by Naik's speeches. The NIA is reportedly looking at Naik's past speeches.
Naik had denied the allegations that he inspired terrorists to kill Muslims.
"I inspire millions of people close to Islam. Once a person comes closer to Islam, there are possibilities that he starts hearing other speakers. As you are aware, there are some people who misguides the Muslims and in the name of Islam, they encourage Muslims to kill innocent people, which is totally against Quran.
The part, which is reported in Indian newspapers-I inspire killing innocent people-I totally disagree. I have never encouraged any other human being to kill any other human being. This evil act of the Indian media trying to prove to the people that Dr Zakir Naik has encouraged terrorism is devilish. I condemn the media that I encourage acts of terrorism," Naik said.
Naik has always maintained that his speech was taken out of context and media is trying to put him in bad light by being 'devilish'. If what he says is true, at a time when serious charges are raised against him, the preacher should have returned the home country, clarified his position and face the law of the land. But, by delaying his return he is doing all but the right thing.