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Zakir Naik, Ban on Your NGO Is Not an Attack on Indian Muslims

What’s happening in Kashmir is a jolt to the country’s democracy, not a ban on Zakir Naik and his organisation.

Updated
Opinion
4 min read
Zakir Naik came under the radar after a terrorist in the Dhaka attack was revealed to be his follower. (Photo: IANS) 

Open letters really are the worst.

Often full of bombastic rhetoric, this supposedly democratic form of communication becomes the written equivalent of wielding a megaphone while astride a high horse, drunk on self-righteousness. So it was only a matter of time before Zakir Naik, the founder of Islamic Research Foundation and Peace TV, penned one.

Welcome to the screechy Hall of (dubious) Fame, Mr Naik.

Zakir Naik came under fire after one of the attackers behind the 1 July attack on a Dhaka bakery was revealed to be a follower of his. Further investigations into his foundation and his evangelical activities threw up allegations of forced conversions, financial fraud and incendiary speeches.

The latest scandal involving him has the BJP alleging that he paid a sum of Rs 50 lakh to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation through IRF. While BJP called it a bribe, a Congress spokesman retaliated by claiming it was a donation that was promptly returned “in view of the controversy surrounding the IRF and Naik.”

The last proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back and Zaik published a 2,000 word open letter crying ‘witch-hunt’ and insisting that an attack on him is an attack on 20 crore Indian Muslims.

Let’s hear straight from the horse’s mouth, shall we?

If IRF and I are banned, it will be the biggest jolt to the country’s democracy of recent times.

What’s happening in Kashmir is a jolt to the country’s democracy; not a ban placed on an individual and his organisation for just cause after prolonged investigations.

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A quote from one of Zakir Naik’s speeches. (Photo: <b>The Quint</b>)
A quote from one of Zakir Naik’s speeches. (Photo: The Quint)
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I do not say this just for me but because this ban will set a precedence of unspeakable injustices against the 20 crore Muslims of India. This action will embolden and encourage every fringe element in the country to do as they please.
Naik

Wow. Here comes the religion card. Naik does his best to paint investigation into an individual’s organisation as a communal witch-hunt. If he isn’t careful, he might find himself charged with attempt to incite communal violence.

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Then I realised some time back that if you’ve decided to target a community, you’ve to first target the biggest name and the most popular figure of the community. 
Naik

Damn. Talk about apne muh miyan mitthu. Granted that Naik was ranked 89 on The Indian Express’s “100 Most Powerful Indians in 2010” list and has 130K followers on Twitter (though he isn’t verified, hmmm), this self-appointed role as the leader of the Muslim community in India sits ill on him.

In the aftermath of the Dhaka attack, Muslim clerics from all sects showed unprecedented solidarity by demanding a complete ban on Naik for misinterpreting the Quran and misleading Muslims with his evangelism.

If you find any wrongdoing on my part, punish me by all means. Give me the harshest of punishments if I’ve wronged anyone.

Smriti Irani in Rajya Sabha déjà vu

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A quote from one of Zakir Naik’s speeches. (Photo: <b>The Quint</b>)
A quote from one of Zakir Naik’s speeches. (Photo: The Quint)
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I’ve been asking myself what exactly have I done to become the enemy number one of the media as well as the state and Central Government.
Naik

Mumbai police indicted Naik for provocative speeches and unlawful activities.

Based on recorded testimonies from alleged terrorists, Naik was charged with inspiring acts of terror through his preaching. This includes the terrorists behind 2006 Mumbai train bombings.

Let’s not be gullible enough to assume that there isn’t a deeper agenda behind this vicious campaign. This is not  just an attack on me, it’s an attack against Indian Muslims. And it’s  an attack against peace, democracy and justice.
Naik

Again with the religion card. And no, a ban based on investigations into IRF’s allegedly sketchy activities is not an “attack against peace, democracy and justice”.

Never mind the fact that the legal agencies have found no wrongdoing — financial or otherwise. Never mind the lack of evidence (although I am not guilty of any wrong-doing, much less any offence whatsoever).
Naik

Naik doth protest too much.

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Naik’s Peace TV, which airs the televangelist’s controversial speeches, has come under attack too. (Photo: Lijumol Joseph/ <b>The Quint</b>)  &nbsp;
Naik’s Peace TV, which airs the televangelist’s controversial speeches, has come under attack too. (Photo: Lijumol Joseph/ The Quint)  
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From charges of bribed conversions to recruitment for ISIS to financial hanky-panky, there is little his foundation, the IRF, hasn’t been accused of. Naik has also been accused of funnelling charity money into his TV channel.

From praising Osama bin Laden to advocating death penalty for homosexuality, from justifying the chopping of hands as punishment for stealing, to supporting the Muslim man’s right to have sex with female slaves, Naik’s ideological history is a can of worms.

No matter how many question marks he marshals in his rhetoric (35, by the way) or how ardently he wishes to represent himself as the spokesperson for Indian Muslims, his voice speaks for no one but his own twisted self.

(The views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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