Qatar’s self goal: Among first to be outraged over Nupur Sharma, the Gulf nation is feting anti-Hindu Zakir Naik

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File image of Zakir Naik. News18

New Delhi: Qatar was among the first nations to express outrage over former BJP member Nupur Sharma’s remarks about the Prophet, but has invited extremist Zakir Naik to preach at the FIFA World Cup.

Qatar has invited Zakir Naik, a controversial Indian Islamic preacher who faces charges of money laundering and hate speech in India, to give religious lectures ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2022, according to a report by Alarabia news.

The report quotes Faisal Alhajri, a presenter at the Qatari state-owned sports channel Alkass, who in a Twitter post wrote, “Preacher Sheikh Zakir Naik is present in Qatar during the World Cup and will give many religious lectures throughout the tournament.”

Why India has banned Zakir Naik

In late 2016, India banned Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation, accusing him of encouraging and assisting its followers in “promoting or attempting to promote feelings of enmity, hatred, or ill-will between different religious communities and groups.”

A PTI report in 2018 stated that Malaysia had ruled out deporting Naik unless he broke Malaysian laws. Naik holds permanent residency status in the country, the report added.

In March 2022, the Islamic IRF was ruled an unlawful association and consequently banned for five years by the Union Home Ministry. According to the MHA notification, IRF founder Zakir Naik’s talks were objectionable since he had been praising known terrorists.

According to the notification, the IRF founder has also advocated for the forced conversion of youth to Islam, supported suicide bombings, and published offensive comments that are insulting to other religions and against Hindus, Hindu Gods, and other religions.

“Naik has further inspired Muslim youth and terrorists in India and abroad to execute terrorist crimes,” added the notification.

The notification also said that illegal acts by the IRF, its supporters, and members have been observed in Gujarat, Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Kerala, Maharashtra, and Odisha.

According to a report in News18, the notification also stated that evidence presented to the tribunal by a senior government official under seal demonstrates that trustees of the IRF, particularly Zakir Naik, continue to travel to Gulf nations to raise money and have established trusts, NGOs, and shell companies, all of which are being used solely for radicalising people, especially Muslim youth.

Following a diplomatic row in June over Nupur Sharma’s remarks against the prophet Muhammad, Naik’s attendance at the World Cup is expected to raise eyebrows. Doha, along with a number of Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the UAE, had objected to remarks made by Nupur Sharma.

The party had promptly suspended Sharma from her post.

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