Government to probe Zakir Naik’s sermons

New Delhi, July 8 (IANS) The government on Friday launched a multi-pronged probe into controversies around the speeches and “online sermons” of self-styled preacher Zakir Naik with the Union Home Ministry seeking investigation by intelligence agencies while Information and Broadcasting minister M. Venkaiah Naidu personally met top officials on the issue.

“We discussed all matters concerning the issue. District monitoring committees would monitor telecast of such sermons and if necessary action will be taken and telecast by unauthorised channels will be stopped,” Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore told reporters after a meeting.

The meeting, presided over by Naidu, was attended by senior officials of the ministry.

The equipment of those airing the content can be be seized, I&B officials said.

Official sources said the Home Ministry has ordered investigation into alleged diversion of funds by Naik and his NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF).

The government move comes after reports surfaced quoting Bangladeshi security officials and ministers that some terrorists involved in July 1-2 Dhaka siege were “inspired” by Naik’s speeches.

Born on October 18, 1965, Zakir Naik is better known as a Mumbai-based “preacher”. He is also supposed to be a student of University of Mumbai and a medical doctor by education.

Internet also describes him as a Founder of Peace TV, Peace TV Bangla, and Peace TV Urdu.

Official sources said under orders from Home Minister Rajnath Singh, “the NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) will face mandatory provisions under the rules of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) as it is a registered organisation”.

“Intelligence agencies will probe if funds channelled to IRF from abroad have been spent on political activities or to propagate views that spread radical views,” the source said.

“We have taken cognisance of Zakir Naik’s speeches and necessary instructions have been issued in this regard. His speeches/CDs are being examined and whatever is justified will be done,” Singh told the media here earlier in the day.

“As far as the government of India is concerned, we will not compromise on terrorism at any cost,” he said.

Naik, founder of Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation, is banned in Britain and Canada for his hate speeches aimed against other religions.

I&B ministry officials said Naik’s TV channels including in Bangla and Urdu — which are beamed in Bangladesh are “banned” in India but shown by some cable TV operators.

In television interviews, Zakir Naik has denied the charge of spreading communal agenda or radical ideas even as government agencies are trying to probe the CDs.

The Maharashtra government has also ordered a police probe into the entire gamut of related issues.

–IANS

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