Mumbai: Controversial Mumbai-based televangelist and Islamic preacher Zakir Naik will not conduct his press conference via Skype earlier scheduled for Thursday.
The man who addresses audiences around the world has been denied any place to speak in Mumbai, so claims Zakir Naik's spokesperson.
At least four venues, including three five-star hotels (Taj Hotel, ITC Grand Central, The Sahil Hotel) and the World Trade Centre (WTC) in Cuffe Parade, Mumbai, have declined permission to conduct Naik`s press conference via Skype.
The WTC had confirmed the venue for Thursday`s media interaction with Naik who is abroad but cancelled it today, an official spokesperson of the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) said. He said the IRF was trying to organise an alternate venue on a fresh date.
"It`s weird and unfair. What`s going on? Apparently, hotels in Mumbai have been told not to give out venues for Naik`s press conference," the spokesperson said.
This is the second time in at least four days that Naik`s scheduled media interaction via Skype was called off amid speculation about his impending return to India.
"A manager of one of these hotels told us in confidentiality that they'd been instructed by the Mumbai Police not to give out the venue for Dr Naik's press conference," said the spokesperson.
"We're talking about a press conference. Not a public speech, not a public performance, but a press conference. We're now trying to organise another venue for the PC and the PC will happen at its scheduled time and date, albeit at a different venue," the spokesperson added.
The Mumbai Police has, however, refuted this allegation. "These allegations are baseless. Mumbai Police has no role in this," their Public Relations Office said.
Critics say Naik`s Islamic teachings are radicalising the young.
Naik - at the centre of a storm - is on a lecture tour in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Africa. He is likely to return to Mumbai after some two weeks, the spokesperson said.
While the Shiv Sena and others have called for his arrest, others like the AIMIM have come out in support of Naik, saying he was the victim of a witch-hunt.