Security analysts and pacifists the world over, are taken by surprise over hate preacher and Islamic radical activist Zakir Naik’s presence in Qatar to deliver lectures on Islam on the sidelines of the ongoing FIFA world cup. It is equally surprising that the FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, who delivered a “hard-hitting” anti-west speech at the FIFA opening in Doha, could ignore such a glaring amiss on part of the organizers and the State to allow a hate preacher of the scale of Zakir Naik to travel all the way from Malaysia to Qatar to vitiate the sporting atmosphere and foster disharmony by his hate speeches. This is based on Zakir Naik’s ugly track record wherein he had delivered venomous rhetoric in various parts of the globe to strengthen the Islamic radicals and their cause in showing other religions in poor light. Sadly, so far, no strong condemnation has come to notice criticizing the FIFA organizers and the government of Qatar allowing Naik to step on the Qatari soil where World Cup Football is meant to promote universal harmony and brotherhood.
Zakir Naik is wanted in India for his acrimonious hate speeches, promoting communalism through his personalized TV channel and propaganda. He was first sheltered in Saudi Arabia and subsequently he found refuge in Malaysia. His presence in Qatar coinciding with the highly publicized and media hyped blitz is bound to revive his dead image. It may also lead to promotion of Islamic fundamentalism and subsequently further indoctrinating the “terrorists in
the making” and reinforcing the Islamic terror groups who have taken the peace lovers to hostage. Now that the damage is done, media should also play it’s part by downplaying the visit and deride Zakir Naik and his patrons lest his attempts are emboldened to further cause divisive and communal politics.
It is intriguing that Qatar is the same country that had summoned the Indian ambassador and questioned the Indian government’s stand on ruling party leader Nupur Sharma’s statement in the past and had expressed its arrogance. Qatar, which was angered by the alleged remarks made on Prophet Mohammed, is now calling a man (Zakir Naik) who is notorious for hurting other religions as a preacher. More interestingly, Qatar, where a big event like the Football World Cup is taking place, has called an Islamic preacher, who terms football as haram. Security watchers, meanwhile, reckon that FIFA World Cup is a global event and people from all over the world come to witness this spectacular sport and also millions watch it on TV and the internet. Giving a space and opportunity to Zakir Naik, at a time when the world is fighting global terrorism, is to provide a ready platform to a terrorist to spread his radicalism and hate. Similar arguments have been put forward by independent observers in India and abroad.
Also, it is worth reiterating that Zakir Naik a hated Islamic preacher, has been openly encouraging religious conversion through his speeches, and his entry stands banned in many countries including in India, Bangladesh, Canada and UK. Further, he had openly supported Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri and justified the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US. Because of his undesirable and anti-State activities in India including money laundering, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) banned his organization called Islamic Research Foundation and also Bangladesh forbade Zakir Naik’s Peace TV channel which was airing disharmonious propaganda through consistent aggressive broadcasting.
Crucially, it is also worth condemning in this context that Zakir Naik was once welcomed to Doha personally by Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of the State of Qatar. This shows that Zakir Naik, despite the universal criticism, enjoys state patronage of Qatar and by implications, his patrons are equally culpable as abettors and perpetrators of religious hatred making the world more perilous to live. Perhaps UN and other
international bodies including numerous human rights groups should now intervene because if Zakir Naik’s current Qatar visit does not get chastised then the radicals who pose a deadly threat to the world, will get further encouraged to support terror by being direct actors in the crime.
(The writer is a retired IPS officer, a security analyst and a former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Mauritius. Views are personal)