Panaji, Dec 23 (IANS) The organisers of Goa’s first Muslim children’s festival have withdrawn controversial preacher Zakir Naik as a personality to be emulated at a fancy dress contest following protests from Muslims.
Asif Hussain, a spokesperson for the Board of Islamic Education Centres, told IANS that Naik’s name from the list of 20 Muslim personalities to be emulated during the fancy dress contest had been withdrawn.
“The organisers have withdrawn Naik’s name from the competition keeping in mind the reservations some people have regarding him,” Hussain said.
“Naik has contributed a lot towards the enlightenment of Muslims and focussed a lot of commonalities of faiths… But in recent developments surrounding him and the reservations expressed from some quarters we have withdrawn his name from the list,” he said.
Born in Mumbai, Naik is the founder of the Islamic Research Foundation and a television preacher who is now under the radar of Indian security and enforcement agencies allegedly over his extremist views and funding of his organisations.
Goa’s first ever Muslim children’s festival “Taare Zameen Par” from December 26-30 is being organised by the Board of Islamic Education along with the Hikmah Foundation’s House of Wisdom.
The fancy dress competition is one of the several events in the festival where boys are expected to emulate “personalities who have contributed to Islam or Muslim community” and expected to dress and introduce them.
Others in the list of Muslim personalities to be emulated include Allama Iqbal, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Tippu Sultan, Adil Shah, Aurangzeb and Ibn Batuta.
BJP’s minority cell chief Sheikh Jinnah told IANS that the inclusion of Naik was unfortunate in the first place.
“His views do not represent the views of Muslims in India. By asking children to emulate him, we might be sowing the wrong kind of ideas among young minds,” he said.