AFTER FOUR failed attempts to get a venue, controversial televangelist Dr Zakir Naik finally managed to address a press meet, where he termed himself a “messenger of peace” and said he had no plans of returning to India this year.
During the press meet, held at a banquet hall in Mazagaon where he lives, he addressed the media from Medina over Skype. The meet lasted 5 hours, 10 minutes. “I have been giving lectures for more than 25 years, there is not a single talk of mine where I have encouraged any human being to kill any other innocent human being, whether Muslim or non-Muslim. I am totally against terrorism…,” Naik said.
Naik came under fire after reports that some terrorists involved in Dhaka attack followed him on social media and were inspired by his speeches.
He said he was available for any probe. “…no government agency has approached me. I welcome any probe against me. …but as per my plan I will come back next year.”
Naik alleged that the Centre had failed to protect “messengers of peace” and fanatics were becoming powerful under the current regime. “If I would have been a member of ruling party or the information and broadcasting minister, I would have pulled up all those people (referring to the media) who have been targeting a messenger of peace. But, the present government remains silent,” he added.
He added: “PM Modi was banned in more countries than I am. But just because he won the polls, situation for him changed. See the Gujarat riots… So many cases have been filed against him. But nobody will ask him anything because he is the Prime Minister,” he said.
Asked about his proximity with Congress, he said: “It was during the Congress rule that Peace TV was denied downlinking permission. So, to say I am close to Congress would be incorrect.”
Replying to a query on a tape where he is heard saying, “Let’s have suicide bombings”, he said the tape was doctored and added that he had referred to suicide bombings” as a war tactic. “…Like the way it was used during World War II, Japan had Kamakazi pilots who did suicide bombings. I am against suicide bombings, it is the second major sin in Islam.”
To a question by The Indian Express on one of the parents of the recently busted IS module in Kerala claiming that Naik met his son, he replied that he is a popular figure and many people love to pose with him for photos.
On his travel plans, he said, “I was not supposed to come back to India this year… Whenever I come to Mecca, I return only after a couple of months. But seeing the media trial of mine, I was ready to come for one-and-half days…but when I heard hotels are not welcoming, I thought of taking it on Skype. Why should I change my plans because of media trial?” he said.
He also clarified that Peace TV hasn’t been banned, but has been denied downlinking permission, which makes its transmission by cable operators deemed illegal.