Bangladesh government on Sunday banned the broadcasting of India-based controversial preacher Zakir Naik’s Peace TV channel after reports that his “provocative” speeches inspired some of the militants who carried out the country’s worst terror attack at a cafe.
The decision to ban the Mumbai-based preacher’s ‘Peace TV Bangla’ was taken during a special meeting of Cabinet Committee on Law and Order, Industry Minister Amir Hossain Amu, who chaired the meeting said.
In the meeting, attended by senior ministers and top security officials, it was also decided to monitor the sermons given during the Friday prayers to check whether any provocative lectures are delivered, Amu told reporters.
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Naik’s speeches are believed to have inspired some of the Bangladeshi militants, who killed 22 people, mostly foreigners, at an upscale restaurant in Dhaka on July 1.
The government also appealed to the Imams in the country to deliver lectures in line with real Islamic ideology of denouncing terorism and extremism, the minister said.
Besides senior ministers, the meeting was attended by chief of police and head of the elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), paramilitary border guards and top officials of different security agencies.
Deployment of additional security forces at export processing zone was also ordered.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan on Saturday said that Bangladesh’s intelligence agencies were investigating the Islamic preacher Naik.
“He is on our security scanner… Our intelligence agencies are investigating his activities as his lectures appeared provocative,” Khan had told reporters.
Khan said the investigators were also probing Naik’s financial transactions in Bangladesh.
One of the slain attackers of the terrorist attack in Dhaka’s high-security Gulshan area, the 22-year-old Rohan Imtiaz quoted Naik in a Facebook post in January this year where he urged “all Muslims to be terrorists.”
Twenty-two people, including 17 foreigners, were killed in the brutal late-night attack. Six days later, militants attacked police guarding the largest Eid gathering in Bangladesh and killed three more people.
The activities of Naik’s Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation are also under the scanner of Indian Home Ministry amid allegations that funds from abroad received by it have been spent on political activities and inspiring people towards radical views.
The Maharashtra government has also ordered a probe into the sermons by the 50-year-old televangelist that has kicked up a storm.
Britain and Canada have banned Naik from visiting the two countries several years ago while Malaysia banned his lectures fearing that they could instigate inter-racial tensions.
Experts said Zakir Naik could not be accused of openly inciting terror but his preaching were a heady mix of ingredients which could abet radicalisation of the extreme kinds.