New Delhi : Amid uproar over an invitation to fugitive Zakir Naik to participate in the FIFA World Cup in Doha, it is learnt that Qatar has told India through diplomatic channels that Naik was not invited.
It was reported that Qatar has officially invited Zakir Naik to deliver Islamic sermons at FIFA. A section of the ruling BJP back home has called for a boycott of FIFA. However, Vice President of India Jagdeep Dhankar did attend the World Cup opening ceremony.
Naik, a televangelist, lives in Malaysia, where he moved from India in 2016, and he reportedly got permanent residency there. India is seeking his extradition. Zakir Naik is a wanted man in India and faces charges of spreading hate in India and money laundering.
On Tuesday, Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Singh Puri said India would raise this issue, and decisive action would be taken.
“I’m sure India took it up and will take it up. But the point is he’s a Malaysian national, you invite him somewhere, whether they knew I’ve no knowledge of that…” the Union minister said in a statement.
Meanwhile, BJP spokesperson Savio Rodrigues on Tuesday appealed to the government, Indian Football Association and Indians travelling to the host nation to boycott FIFA following the invitation to controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik by Qatar to the FIFA World Cup.
In a statement, Rodrigues said that giving a platform to Naik when the world is battling terrorism is like allowing a “terror sympathizer” to “spread hate”. “The FIFA World Cup is a global event. People from all over the world come to witness this spectacular sport and also millions watch it on TV and the Internet. Giving a platform to Zakir Naik, at a time when the world is fighting global terrorism, is to give a platform to a terrorist to spread his radicalism and hate,” he said.
Zakir Naik faces charges of money laundering and hate speeches in India. In March this year, the Home Ministry declared Naik-founded Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) an unlawful association and banned it for five years.
The MHA notification stated that the speeches of Zakir Naik were objectionable as he had been extolling known terrorists.
The MHA notification also stated that evidence presented to the tribunal by the Solicitor General shows on record that Zakir Naik continues to travel to Gulf nations to raise money, all of which is being used solely for radicalizing people, especially Muslim youth.
Naik fled to Malaysia in 2016, just before the National Investigation Agency started a probe against him.
Notably, the FIFA World Cup 2022 will be the first time the event has taken place during the fourth quarter of a calendar year. The scheduling was reported due to the extreme weather conditions in Qatar during June and July, the months in which the tournament is typically held.
In total, 32 teams from five confederations are competing in Qatar. As many as 64 matches will be played in 29 days. The teams are hosts Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, the Netherlands, England, Iran, USA, Wales, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland, France, Australia, Denmark, Tunisia, Spain, Costa Rica, Germany, Japan, Belgium, Canada, Morocco, and Croatia, Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon, Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea.(With inputs from ANI)