The ban issued by the UK government on Islamic televangelist Dr Zakir Naik has split the city Muslims into two camps.
A group of Sunni Muslims, spearheaded by the Raza Academy, visited the British High Commission on Monday to express their support to the government, which banned Naik’s entry into the country.
Another collective of Muslim organisations is planning to protest the ban at Azad Maidan on Tuesday, and to submit a petition in solidarity with the Mumbai-based preacher.
Naik, due to give two public lectures in the UK next week, has been accused of promoting terrorism in his speeches.
“We appreciate the initiative of the UK government to restrict his entry. We do not accept him as an Islamic preacher or scholar,” said the letter submitted to the British High Commission by a group of 12 Sunni ulemas, who alleged that Naik has no degree in Islamic studies and gives speeches designed to make Muslims fight internally.
“Naik and writers Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasrin all come in the same category — they all protect terrorism,” said Maulana Amanullah Raza, president of the All India Aimma-e-Masajid Council, one of the groups supporting the ban.
“Those who support Naik are in the minority, and are all Wahhabis (an Islamic sect focusing only on belief in Allah).”
Refuting this allegation is another group of Muslims, who claim that Naik is popular among the majority of Muslims in India and the world.
“This ban is a violation of the freedom of speech and expression that Britian is so proud of,” said Qazim Malik, and educationist associated with the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, one of the many organisations to hold a peaceful protest on Tuesday.