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Islamic preacher to address Oxford Union via satellite

I will be speaking on Islam in the 21st century.

Written by Kavitha Iyer | Mumbai |
February 11, 2011 3:09:40 am

With his appeal against an exclusion order remaining undecided,controversial Islamic preacher and tele-evangelist Dr Zakir Naik has chosen to circumvent the ban on him from entering Britain by going back to the medium which made him famous in the first place.

On Friday night,Naik will address a few hundred students at the Oxford Union,considered one of the most prestigious debating societies in the world,via satellite video link from Mumbai. It will be his first speech to Britons since the exclusion order.

Naik’s 45-minute speech is due to start past midnight Indian time and will be followed by questions from students at the university town who are members of the union,formed in 1823 to promote free speech. “I will be speaking on Islam in the 21st century,” Naik told The Indian Express. “This is an opportunity to clear many misconceptions about Islam.”

In June last year,the Conservative government revoked his visa and barred him from entering Britain for his “unacceptable behaviour”. Naik’s case was considered among the first tests of the government’s election pledge to keep radicals out of the country. The preacher,who has insisted that he was quoted out of context and has in fact spoken out against acts of violence and terror,said on Thursday that his legal battle against the exclusion order continued,and another hearing was expected in the next couple of months.

Oxford Union Press Officer Alistair Walker said the society was meant to debate ideas including those considered unorthodox or controversial. “We have no desire to challenge the ban on Dr Naik’s entry into the UK. However,we do wish to give our members the chance to discuss and challenge his views on terrorism and the Home Office’s decision to ban him.”

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