What have I done to earn ‘Dr Terror’ tag, asks Zakir Naik

Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, facing the allegation of ‘radicalising’ youths, on Saturday asked the government what exactly has he done to get the tag of ‘Dr Terror’ and sought ‘logical answers’ to charges levelled against him.

In a four-page ‘open letter’ released in Mumbai, Naik posed five questions to the government as to what he has done to earn the tags of ‘terror preacher’, ‘Dr Terror’.

‘Why now? I have been preaching for 25 years not just in India but across the world. What exactly did I do now to earn the tags of ‘terror preacher’, ‘Dr Terror’? Of 150 countries where I am respected, I am called a ‘terrorist influencer’ in my own country. What an irony!’ the 50-year-old televangelist asked.

‘Despite exhaustive investigations, not a single conclusive evidence of wrong doing was reported by any governmental agency. But now investigators are being asked to repeat and continue the probe. Why?’ he sought to know.

On the government’s action against his non-governmental organisation, he asked why would the government renew Islamic Research Foundation’s Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act registration and then cancel it? And that it seemed ‘illogical’.

‘Is there design to leaking confidential information of the government, solicitor general and the MHA (ministry of home affairs)? Is there a design to leaking selective government documents to the media?’ the letter said.

Naik, a medical doctor-turned Salafist preacher, said the entire row in the last few months have come as a ‘shock’ to him and termed it as ‘murder of democracy and strangulation of fundamental rights’.

‘This is not just an attack on me, it is an attack against Indian Muslims. And it is an attack against peace, democracy and justice,’ Naik wrote in the letter.

On allegations of forced conversion, Naik, who has been away from the country for over two months, said, ‘While chasing the IRF for allegations of forced conversions, why are the agencies ignoring the most basic proof? Where is the converted person and where is his or her statement? Isn’t this person the most basic proof of forced conversion?’

The founder of Peace TV, run by his Mumbai-based IRF, Naik has come under the scanner of security agencies after a Bangladeshi newspaper had reported that one of the attackers of the July 1 terror strike in Dhaka was ‘inspired’ by his speeches.

Naik said if his NGO was banned, it will be the biggest jolt to democracy in India.

‘The IRF and I have been ‘set up’ for a ban. And if that happens, if the IRF and I are banned, it will be the biggest jolt to the country’s democracy in recent times. I do not say this just for me but because this ban will set a precedence of unspeakable injustices against the 20 crore Muslims of India,’ he wrote.

Naik said he was open to any investigation and ‘harshest of punishments’ if found guilty.

‘I still have faith in the judiciary and I know that truth will ultimately prevail. But it may come at a huge price if the current actions are not checked. My appeal to the government — be fair in your investigation. Be fair in what you allege. Be truthful with facts,’ he said.