Controversial Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik, who is facing multiple probes over his alleged provocative speeches, claimed on Friday his statements have been doctored and taken out of context and that he unequivocally condemns all terrorist activities.
Naik has come under the scanner of the Indian government after reports emerged that two among a group of terrorists, who killed 22 people in an upscale Dhaka café last week, were allegedly inspired by his speeches.
He was addressing the media through video calling service Skype from Medina for the first time after Bangladesh banned his controversial Peace TV, claiming it incited the Dhaka attack.
Naik, the founder of Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation, began his press conference by condoning the latest attack in France, where at least 84 people were killed as a man ploughed a truck into a crowd in the French resort of Nice after a Bastille Day fireworks.
The Islamic preacher dismissed as “misinformation” that he had ever advocated suicide bombings, saying he always condemned them since innocent people are killed in those attacks.
“Suicide bombing is not permitted in Islam. It is ‘haraam’. However, many scholars say that suicide attacks may be used as a tactic of war to save the country. In all other circumstances where innocents are targeted, it is condemnable,” Naik said.
“I have always said that killing any innocent human being is the second major sin in Islam. There is no scripture in the world apart from Quran that says if you have killed one human being you have killed the entire humanity, and if you save one human being you have saved the whole nation,” he added.
He suggested that his lectures may have been doctored.
“You go to our YouTube channel. I have spoken thousands of times. Maybe, there are 10 sentences where you can take out a double meaning. But there are thousands of sentences in my talks which condemn unambiguously that killing innocent human being is prohibited,” said Naik.
He said that instead of blaming him, the media and security agencies catch people who are using his popularity for ulterior motives.
“If people are inspired by my lecture but some of them are hijacked by certain speakers who are misguiding, how can I help?” he asked. “I meet thousands of people every day, shake their hands, but I have never knowingly met a terrorist,” he added.
When asked why he thinks that his channel Peace TV is banned in India, Naik said, “We had applied to the information and broadcasting ministry for downlinking rights in 2008. But the I and B ministry did not give us any answers for rejecting our application, and just said that it was confidential.”
The 51-year-old medical doctor said he is not bothered by the “media trial” is he being subjected to and will reply to all the allegations he has been facing from the media. “Just because media is raising allegations on me, why should I stop my positive work... I am doing a lot of positive work. There are so many people in the world who love me and respect me.”
His name first cropped in 2002-2003 amid a series of blasts in Mumbai and led Mumbai crime branch to IRF. Naik was questioned extensively but Mumbai Police could not gather any evidence that linked him to any act of terrorism.
Since then Naik has been under continuous surveillance of the intelligence units and agencies.