Jeddah: Mumbai-based televangelist Zakir Naik, who is under fire over allegedly inspiring one of the terrorists who attacked the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka recently, has opened up in a bid to douse the controversies surrounding him.
Talking to The Times of India, the Islamic preacher said the news that one of the attackers was his follower first appeared in a Bangladeshi newspaper on July 03, and in the Indian media on July 04. “It is totally wrong. The paper later clarified but the Indian media ran a trial against me.”
Hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the only PM of India who has visited so many Muslim countries in just two years, Naik said this will “strengthen relations between India and other Muslim countries”.
“If his (Modi's) intention is to maintain unity between Hindus and Muslims and between India and other Muslim countries, I am totally for him."
“Hinduism is a major religion of the world and India has a high Muslim population. So if the PM reaches out to Muslim countries, it is good. It will help bring investments to India. If all these countries get together, India would become a superpower. India was a superpower in the past and will attain that stature again.”
When asked about his views on the Islamic State, Naik said, “Jihad means to strive and struggle to make the society better. It also stands for self-defence. But the Indian media has hyped jihad. Besides non-Muslims, it is misunderstood even by Muslims.”
“IS is killing innocent people which, according to the Quran, is a sin against humanity. I call them anti-Islam state. They have given a wrong meaning to Islam. If someone killed Muslims in Gujarat that does not justify killing innocent Hindus in Mumbai.”
He also refuted claims that he forced Hindus to embrace Islam.
The preacher also declared that he was “proud to be an Indian and an Indian Muslim”.
Saying that he has full faith in the Indian judiciary, Naik underlined that there should not be any political pressure on it.
He further rejected the charge that his lectures were against the Indian Constitution or attempted to disrupt the harmony of India.
The controversial preacher has said he is willing to return to India "whenever the government or the agencies want me".
Naik's Peace TV and Peace mobile have been banned in Bangladesh following revelations that one of the young Islamist attackers who killed 20 hostages, mostly foreigners, during a Dhaka cafe siege on July 01 drew "inspiration" from his speeches.
On Thursday, a joint team of Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad and Kerala Police arrested a youth allegedly associated with Naik's foundation in connection with a case registered in Kochi.
A senior police official said Arshid Qureshi, who was associated with IRF Foundation of Zakir Naik, was nabbed from Navi Mumbai.