Controversial Islamic televangelist Zakir Naik, who has remained out of India since June last year, has been granted Saudi Arabian citizenship, Middle East Monitor reported.
The Britain-based media monitoring site quoted Arab sources as saying that the decision to grant Naik Saudi citizenship had been taken by King Salman himself, in order to block his arrest by Interpol.
However, no Indian publication confirmed the news. According to a report in DNA, Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) denied reports of Naik being granted Saudi Arabian citizenship.
"It (news of Saudi citizenship) is false, unless Allah wills. This is how media even prints gossip as facts," the foundation had said.
Naik had come under the scanner of the security agencies after Bangladeshi newspaper Daily Star reported that one of the perpetrators of the 1 July terror attack in Dhaka, Rohan Imtiaz, was influenced from Naik. Imtiaz reportedly ran propaganda on Facebook quoting Naik.
The Islamic orator is banned in the UK and Canada for his hate speech aimed against other religions. He is among 16 banned Islamic scholars in Malaysia.
On 15 November 2016, the government had decided to declare an NGO promoted by Naik as an outlawed organisation under the anti-terror law for five years for its alleged terror activities.
The Cabinet approved a proposal to declare IRF as an 'unlawful association' under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for five years, a home ministry official said.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on 21 March had issued notice to the televangelist to appear before it in a case where he stands accused of promoting enmity between groups on religious and racial grounds.
Naik had been summoned after failing to appear in person. Later, on 21 April, Naik was issued non-bailable warrant by a Mumbai NIA court.
Naik had also been under the Enforcement Directorate (ED) scanner as the agency attached assets worth over Rs 18 crore belonging to his NGO and other entities.
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Updated Date: May 25, 2017 09:26:01 IST