Tue. Dec 6th, 2022

Zakir Naik’s name had previously appeared in various terrorism-related activities linked to the Islamic State. ITP

New Delhi: India has taken up the issue of fugitive Islamic preacher Zakir Naik’s presence at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar and his extradition with the host country’s authorities, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday.

“The issue of Zakir Naik, a wanted man in India, has been raised with Qatar,” MEA spokesman Arindam Bagchi told reporters at a news conference.

The Indian government is determined to crack down on Naik and make him face the law on Indian soil as he is an accused and wanted criminal under Indian law, the MEA spokesman said.

“Zakir Naik is a defendant in India, under Indian law. We have already raised the issue of his extradition to Malaysia. Now we have raised it with Qatar,” the MEA spokesperson said.

Amid media reports on Qatar’s invitation of controversial Islamic preacher and Indian fugitive Naik to the FIFA World Cup on Wednesday, Goa BJP spokesman Savio Rodrigues called on the Center and Football Associations of India to boycott the mega global sporting event. Qatar has reportedly invited Naik to give lectures on Islam during the ongoing FIFA World Cup.

The Goa BJP leader reiterated that giving Naik a platform at a time when the world is fighting terrorism is like giving a “terror sympathizer” the freedom to “spread hate.” The BJP leader had called on Indians and also people from abroad who are victims of terrorism to boycott the World Cup event “in solidarity with the global fight against terrorism.”

A wanted man in India, Zakir Naik, faces charges of money laundering and hate speech in the country. In March this year, the Union Home Office (MHA) declared the Naik-founded Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) an illegal association and banned it for five years. Naik fled to Malaysia in 2016, where he was granted permanent residence and is now a Malaysian citizen. Naik left for Malaysia just before the National Investigation Agency launched an investigation against him.

India had even made a request to Malaysia for his extradition, which is still pending with the Malaysian government.

The MHA statement at the time reported that Zakir Naik’s speeches were objectionable as he had been glorifying known terrorists. Among the many charges for which the Islamic preacher is wanted is financing of terrorism.

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