Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, in an interview to India Today TV from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, alleged on Monday that the Indian media had doctored his statements. He added that the Narendra Modi government had not "bothered" him till now.
"Indian media doctored my statements," Naik said in the interview. "Our channel is promoting peace...the present government (of India) has not called me so far," he said.
"I am not prepared for a media trial...I challenge Indian media to show my full lectures," he said.
Naik, who is currently in Saudi Arabia, is under the scanner of state and central agencies for making allegedly incendiary speeches. But he rejected charges that his sermons inspired terror activity, claiming that he has never encouraged anyone to kill innocents.
The preacher, who is facing heat over charges that he inspired some of the attackers who targeted a cafe in Dhaka on 1 July, condemned all terror attacks and dubbed himself as "a messenger of peace".
Further blaming the media, Naik said, "Bangladesh papers first said I was a terrorist...As far as I'm concered, the present government hasn't bothered me till now."
He also said that he had not said anything against the US in his lectures. "No religion tells us to kill innocents. I condemned the 9/11 terror attacks. I condemn all terror attacks," he said. "Not a single lecture of mine has spread hatred...I never said people should take up arms against America." he added.
Naik also praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for visiting Muslim nations. "He (Modi) is the first PM of India in so many years who has visited so many Muslim countries in such a short span of time," he said. "If the government needs co-operation from me, I am ready."
He added that his lectures on Islam were progressive and he had taken the right stand on many issues. "Show me one lecture of mine which spreads disharmony...I have given a lecture on women's rights in Islam," he said. "I call ISIS anti-Islamic State," Naik said.
When asked for his views on a uniform civil code, Naik said, "As far as uniform civil code is concerned, the rules and regulations laid in the Quran are the best for humanity. The teachings of Islam are best for humanity."
One of the slain accused of the Dhaka terror attack in high-security Gulshan area, 22-year-old Rohan Imtiaz, had quoted Naik in a Facebook post in January this year, where he had urged "all Muslims to be terrorists". Twenty-two people were killed in the brutal attack. Six days later, militants had attacked police guarding the largest Eid gathering in Bangladesh and killed three more people.
Activities of Naik's Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation are also under the scanner of the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs amid allegations that funds received from abroad have been spent on political activities and for inspiring people towards radical views.
(With inputs from PTI)