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Zakir Naik seeks support from Muslim community against ‘media trial’

india Updated: Jul 10, 2016 12:37 IST
Zakir Naik

Zakir Naik, 51, has long been a polarising figure in Mumbai. On the radar of security agencies following reports that the terrorists behind the carnage in Dhaka were inspired by his sermons, he is now on a visit to Mecca. (File photo)

Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik on Saturday sought support from the Muslim community against what he called was a “media trial” over allegedly provocative statements promoting militant views that have triggered calls for his arrest.

Introducing a new Twitter handle -- @drzakirofficial – the Mumbai-based preacher also appealed to people around the world to “eliminate terrorism from our midst”.

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 a posh Dhaka café last week were allegedly inspired by his speeches. 6 terrorists were also killed by security forces

“I, Dr Zakir Naik, Call upon all my Muslim Brothers & Sisters to Support me against the “Media Trials” and Let Justice Prevail (sic),” Naik tweeted.

Naik, 51, founder of the Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), also introduced his new Twitter handle on his Facebook page.

Read| Zakir Naik unfit to preach, Muslims should avoid listening to him: Darul Uloom

Within an hour of Naik’s appeal, his Facebook post had more than 6,000 likes.

According to reports, several Indian youth who have taken to militancy are also believed to have been “inspired” by Naik’s speeches, made at public functions and through his television channel Peace TV.

He is also the founder of Peace TV Bangla and Peace TV Urdu.

Naik, a doctor by profession, is banned in Britain and Canada for alleged hate speeches.

The Indian government launched multi-pronged investigation into controversies around Naik’s speeches and “online sermons”.

Officials at the ministry of information and broadcasting said on Saturday that Naik’s Peace TV was illegal and warned cable operators that action will be taken for transmitting the channel.

“Reports are being received of such content being broadcast through private satellite TV channels, such as Peace TV channel, which are not permitted by this ministry for downlinking into the country,” ministry’s deputy secretary Shankar Lal said.

Read| Kashmiris take to streets, social media in support of preacher Zakir Naik

In Mumbai, police identified at least three properties belonging to him and his Islamic Research Foundation in Dongri-Mazgaon belt.

The officials said that identifying number of properties owned Naik and IRF is one of the important focus areas of the enquiry. The police are likely to submit the report to the state government next week following which a decision will be taken whether to initiate criminal proceedings against Naik.

Read| Zakir Naik: From a suave doctor to a polarising preacher on security radar