Issuing his first response on Indian fugitive Zakir Naik’s presence at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Singh Puri on Tuesday (22) said India will raise this issue and decisive action will be taken as well.
Puri’s remarks came as Zakir Naik has been invited to Qatar where he is slated to give religious lectures throughout the FIFA World Cup tournament. “I’m sure India took it up and will take it up. But the point is he’s a Malaysian national, you invite him somewhere, whether they knew I’ve no knowledge of that…” the minister said in a statement.
Meanwhile, BJP spokesperson Savio Rodrigues on Tuesday appealed to the government, Indian Football Association and Indians travelling to the host nation to boycott FIFA following the invitation to controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik by Qatar to the FIFA World Cup.
In a statement, Rodrigues said that giving a platform to Naik at a time when the world is battling terrorism is like allowing a “terror sympathiser” to “spread hate”.
“The FIFA World Cup is a global event. People from all over the world come to witness this spectacular sport and also millions watch it on TV and the Internet. Giving a platform to Zakir Naik, at a time when the world is fighting global terrorism, is to give a platform to a terrorist to spread his radicalism and hate,” he said.
Zakir Naik faces charges of money laundering and hate speeches in India. In March, this year the Home Ministry declared Naik-founded Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) an unlawful association and banned it for five years.
The MHA notification stated that the speeches of Zakir Naik were objectionable as he has been extolling known terrorists.
The MHA notification also stated that evidence presented to the tribunal by the Solicitor General, shows on record that Zakir Naik continues to travel to Gulf nations to raise money, all of which is being used solely for radicalising people, especially Muslim youth.
Naik fled to Malaysia in 2016, just before the National Investigation Agency started a probe against him.
Notably, the FIFA World Cup 2022 will be the first time the event has taken place during the fourth quarter of a calendar year. The scheduling was reported to be due to the extreme weather conditions in Qatar during June and July, the months in which the tournament is typically held.
In total, 32 teams from five confederations are competing in Qatar. As many as 64 matches will be played during the course of 29 days.