Mumbai-based Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Nayek is in the spotlight again in the aftermath of the ghastly Dhaka terror attack which killed over 20, mostly foreign nationals including an Indian. Two of the terrorists, who had attacked the upscale Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka on Friday night, are said to be followers of Zakir Nayek.
Zakir Nayek is a televangelist hugely popular in the Indian sub-continent with millions of followers globally. Fluent in English and Arabic, he can quote the Quran, chapter and verse. Nayek runs Peace TV which mostly beams his lectures on Islam and comparative religion.
Nayek is the president of Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation. Nayek’s profile on Peace TV website describes him as an international orator who ‘clarifies Islamic viewpoints and clears misconceptions about Islam, using the Quran, authentic Hadith and other religious scriptures as a basis, in conjunction with reason, logic and scientific facts.’
However, he has landed into many controversies in the past for his views on terror. In one of his speeches, Nayek had said that all Muslims should be terrorists. “I tell Muslims that every Muslim should be a terrorist. Terrorist means a person who terrorises. When a robber sees a policeman, he is terrified. So for a robber, a policeman is a terrorist. So in this context every Muslim should be a terrorist to the robber,” he had said in 2010.
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His views on Osama bin Laden also angered many. He had said, “If Osama bin Laden is terrorising the enemies of Islam, I am with him. If he is terrorising America, the biggest terrorist, then I am with him.”
Nayek made international headlines when Britain and Canada denied him a visa. “Coming to the UK is a privilege, not a right and I am not willing to allow those who might not be conducive to the public good to enter the UK,” BBC had quoted then home secretary Theresa May as saying.