Islamic preacher Zakir Naik on Saturday asked the government what exactly has he done to earn the tag of “Dr. Terror” and sought “logical answers” to charges levelled against him.
In a four-page “open letter” released in Mumbai, Dr. Naik posed five questions to the government as to what he has done to earn the tags of “terror preacher”, “Dr. Terror”.
“Why now? I have been preaching for 25 years not just in India but across the world. What exactly did I do now to earn the tags of ‘terror preacher’, ‘Dr. Terror’? Of 150 countries where I am respected, I am called a ‘terrorist influencer’ in my own country. What an irony!” the 50-year-old preacher asked. “Despite exhaustive investigations, not a single conclusive evidence of wrong doing was reported by any governmental agency. But now investigators are being asked to repeat and continue the probe. Why?”
On the government’s action against his NGO, the Islamic Research Foundation, he said, “Why would the government renew the Islamic Research Foundation’s FCRA registration and then cancel it?”
“Is there (a) design to leaking confidential information of the government, solicitor-general and the MHA? Is there a design to leaking selective government documents to the media,” the letter asked.
Dr. Naik, a medical doctor-turned Salafist preacher, said the entire row in the last few months have come as a “shock” to him and termed it as “murder of democracy and strangulation of fundamental rights”.
“This is not just an attack on me, it is an attack against Indian Muslims. And it is an attack against peace, democracy and justice,” Dr. Naik wrote in the letter.
On allegations of forced conversion, Dr. Naik, who has been away from the country for over two months, said, “While chasing IRF for allegations of forced conversions, why are the agencies ignoring the most basic proof? Where is the converted person and where is his or her statement? Isn’t this person the most basic proof of forced conversion?”
The founder of Peace TV, run by his Mumbai-based IRF, Dr. Naik has come under the scanner of security agencies after a Bangladeshi newspaper had reported that one of the attackers of the July 1, 2016 terror strike in Dhaka was “inspired” by his speeches.
Dr. Naik said if his NGO was banned, it will be the biggest jolt to democracy in India.
“IRF and I have been ‘set up’ for a ban. And if that happens, if IRF and I are banned, it will be the biggest jolt to the country’s democracy in recent times. I do not say this just for me but because this ban will set a precedence of unspeakable injustices against the 20 crore Muslims of India.”
Dr. Naik said he was open to any investigation and “harshest of punishments” if found guilty.
“I still have faith in the judiciary and I know that truth will ultimately prevail. But it may come at a huge price if the current actions are not checked. My appeal to the government — be fair in your investigation. Be fair in what you allege. Be truthful with facts,” he said.