6 Bold Statements Zakir Naik Made In His Chaotic, Heated Presser
The press conference saw much chaos, technical glitches, defensive moderators and heavy police presence.
Addressing a press conference via Skype in a dingy basement of a banquet hall in Mazgaon, Mumbai, on Friday, 15 July 2016, Islamic scholar Zakir Naik spoke to the media about allegations of ‘influencing’ the terrorists responsible for the Holey Artisan Bakery attack in Dhaka on 1 July 2016. Prior to this, his attempt at addressing the media had been continuously thwarted due to the inability of any venue and last-minute cancellations.
Though the press conference was slated to begin at “sharp 10 am”, until 11:30 am only a recorded message from Naik was played out for a visibly agitated press, amidst extremely heavy police presence at the conference.
In Bangladesh, I have many fans. He [Dhaka terrorist] could have been my fan. I challenge Indian media to show any official source from Bangladesh who has said that I inspired the terrorist. They [Indian media] have picked up things without confirmation. 100 million people watch me on Peace TV. I have millions of likes on Facebook, and 25% of them are from Bangladesh. My followers may not follow all the things I say. They listen to others as well. I have never encouraged in any of my talks to kill an innocent. I condemn those Indian media houses who say I promote terrorism.
At around 11:50 am, more than an hour and a half later, Dr Zakir Naik was online on Skype, live, to address the media. He condemned the attack in Nice, France on the previous night before beginning to address allegations against him.
On Allegations Of Endorsing Suicide Bombings
While referring to the 30 allegations on him for provoking Muslims into terrorism and spreading messages of radical Islam, Naik alleged that he was being put on a media trial. He claimed to have seen all the channels running segments on him, and said the ‘TV panelists’ were misleading the audience. On behalf of Naik, pendrives were distributed to all journalists present, in answer to all allegations against him.
When asked if he knew details of the conditions of Muslims in India, particularly, school dropout rates among Muslim kids in the country, Naik said the question was not relevant and refused to answer.
To this end, he also claimed that the clip in which he is seen praising Osama Bin Laden, and supporting him as ‘the terrorist against the real terrorists (USA)’, has also been doctored.
On Times Now and Arnab Goswami
Referring to the media in general, and Arnab Goswami in specific, as a ‘chooha’ (mouse), he challenged Goswami to come out and and have a debate with him.
Sher ka bachcha hai toh studio ke bahar aao! (If Arnab is a lion’s son, he should come out of the studio and talk.)Zakir Naik, on Arnab Goswami
At which point, Megha Prasad from Times Now raised objections to his statements, backed by the press present at the venue. In his abrasive response, Naik threatened defamation law suits against media channels.
On Miscellaneous Questions Raised By The Press
On being repeatedly asked of his return to India, Naik finally responded with a “maybe, sometime next year”.
After the attack, Bangladeshi newspaper Daily Star reported that one of the attackers, Rohan Imtiaz, ran a propaganda on Facebook quoting Naik urging all Muslims to be “terrorists”. Since then, the Shiv Sena has called for a ban, the Maharashtra police has been ordered to monitor his activities to investigate a link between him and the attacks, and Indian media has been baying for his blood.
Ten days later, Daily Star retracted their story and apologised for any allegations that were inferred from their report. However, videos of his speeches across the world have gone viral, which arguably contain provocative messages with the potential to instigate communal violence and tensions.
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