Two recent instances of terror suspects—one in Bangladesh and the other in India—taking his name of motivating them towards taking up arms in the name of Islam and join the Islamic State has definitely pushed controversial Islamic preacher and televangelist Zakir Naik to the wall.
With the heat increasing on him every minute, Naik has now attempted to distance himself from the terror-related controversies, responding through a series of videos.
Firstpost tried to reach out to Naik on his personal telephone number but the 51-year-old preacher refused to speak on phone. But Naik’s assistant in Mumbai made available six videos from Naik, which one of his family members shot on a mobile phone in Mecca. In the videos, Naik responds to the criticism in Indian media and explains his position on the alleged links with terrorists in Bangladesh.
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.
In his video responses, however, Naik 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.