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Al Qaeda fan Zakir Naik at FIFA World Cup

Zakir Naik, Peace TV, Islamic State, Bin Laden, Bangladesh, Qatar

Opinion

Al Qaeda fan Zakir Naik at FIFA World Cup

Zakir Naik’s comments in defense of Osama Bin Laden were first exposed by Blitz back in 2005. Later the matter drew attention of global news media. Following series of reports published in Blitz, Zakir Naik was banned in the United Kingdom and Canada.

Several years ago, Zakir Naik boasted on his infamous “Peace TV” stating,If bin Laden is fighting enemies of Islam, I am for him. If he [Osama Bin Laden] is terrorizing America—the terrorist, biggest terrorist—I am with him. Every Muslim should be a terrorist. The thing is that if he is terrorizing the terrorist, he is following Islam. Whether he is or not, I don’t know, but you as Muslims know that, without checking up, laying allegations is also wrong”.

Zakir Naik is accused of giving provocative speeches, which were cited as a reason by Bangladesh for the Holey Artisan café Islamic State attack in Dhaka in 2016 which left 22 innocent people – including Indian, Italian and Japanese national dead.

Then Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Mario Giro had attended a meeting in Bangladesh and visited the attack site. He then took the bodies of 9 Italian victims and carried them to their homeland in Italy. The plane carrying the bodies landed on July 5, 2016 at Ciampino Military Airbase south of Rome, Italy. Autopsy shows that all nine Italians were tortured in the attack. Several of them were slashed with knives and several of them were mutilated. Authorities confirmed that the nine Italian victims suffered “slow and agonizing death”.


Also read Zakir Naik defends death penalty for LGBT


Relatives of the seven Japanese victims in the attack were flown to Bangladesh to view and identify the bodies, accompanied by Senior Vice Foreign Minister Seiji Kihara, Foreign Ministry and the Japan International Cooperation Agency. A ceremony for the repatriation of the bodies were held at a stadium in Dhaka, which was attended by the Japan’s Ambassador to Bangladesh, Masato Watanabe. The bodies of the seven Japanese victims were flown to Tokyo on July 5.

Survivors recalled that the attackers had no mercy to the foreigners.

Zakir Naik’s comments in defense of Osama Bin Laden were first exposed by Blitz back in 2005. Later the matter drew attention of global news media. Following series of reports published in Blitz, Zakir Naik was banned in the United Kingdom and Canada.

Back in 2021, Zakir Naik said that Christian evangelist Mother Teresa is burning in hellfire for not being a Muslim.

The hate preacher alleged that all those who consider Jesus Christ (the son of Mary) as ‘God’, Allah shall make paradise ‘haram’ (prohibited) for him. “Fire (Hell) shall his dwelling place be and he shall have no help hereafter”. He thereby concluded that by virtue of Mother Teresa believing Jesus Christ as God and thus put Him at par with ‘Allah’. “So, according to Jesus Christ, Quran and the Bible, if anybody does Shirk, be it Mother Teresa or anyone else, they shall not enter Jannah”, he concluded.


Also read The evil nexus of Zakir Naik and Jamaat-e-Islami


In a video from April 2019 that had gone viral on social media, Zakir Naik was seen admonishing a Muslim boy named Adel Ahmed for committing ‘sin’. Ahmed’s mistake was that he wished his Christian friends, ‘Merry Christmas’.

“To reach your goals, you cannot use wrong means brother. What is Haram to them is also Haram to you. When you are wishing Merry Christmas to them, you are agreeing that he is the son of God and that is Shirk (sin). Because they believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God. Irrespective of whether they are practicing Christians or not, they celebrate the day because of His birthday”, Zakir Naik emphasized.

To a large section of the television viewers in Asia, Dr. Zakir Naik is a known name. This is mostly because of the prominent presence of his Islamist television channel named ´Peace TV´, which was claiming it to be the ‘solution for humanity’.

Dr. Naik operated this channel from Britain under the banner of an organization named Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) and Peace TV was running with heavy donation and contribution by Muslims from a part of their Zakat, as well as donations from various Afro-Arab sources.

Notorious Zakir Naik hosted by Qatari regime

According to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), hours before the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup in Doha on November 20, 2022, it emerged that India’s wanted radical Islamist preacher Dr. Zakir Naik had arrived in the Qatari capital at the invitation of Qatar to deliver da’wa-related “religious lectures”. Da’wa, proselytizing and inviting non-Muslims to convert Islam, is an Islamic practice. From Urdu and Arabic media reports discussed below, it appears that da’wa is an unannounced goal set by the state of Qatar for the FIFA World Cup tournament.

Zakir Naik is a controversial Islamist who currently lives in Malaysia. He is wanted by the Indian government for money laundering and hate speech against non-Muslims and is barred from entering Canada and the United Kingdom. In the past, Naik has been welcomed to Doha personally by Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, the emir of the State of Qatar, according to a 2019 social media post by the radical preacher that was retweeted on social media platforms as he arrived in Doha for the FIFA World Cup.

Faisal Alhajri, a television host at Qatar’s state-run sports news channel Alkass, said in an Arabic-language tweet: “Preacher Sheikh Zakir Naik is in Qatar during the World Cup and will give many religious lectures throughout the tournament”. Several video clips available on social media showed Zakir Naik arriving at a FIFA venue. In another video, the Indian preacher is seen together with Qatari sheikhs sharing a meal at a dining table.


Also read Tablighi Jamaat, gate to terrorism and danger to societies


Zakir Naik’s arrival in Qatar is not surprising because the Qatar’s royal family, the Al Thanis, has been known for the past several decades for sheltering Islamists, jihadi commanders, (including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, “the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks” – according to the 9/11 Commission Report, and other religious organizations. A Twitter handle, which impersonates Zakir Naik and has his image as its profile picture, tweeted as he arrived in Doha: “Thank you Qatar, the country and the people…”

Zakir Naik’s name has been a familiar for years in the towns of Qatar, for his role in da’wa, especially in converting non-Muslims to Islam. For example, in a 2016 video available on the internet, Zakir Naik assists in the conversion of four non-Muslims to Islam at an event organized at the Katara Cultural Center in Doha. In the video, Zakir Naik recites the Kalimah (the words recited to proclaim one’s faith in Islam) and the four converts declare: “I bear witness that there is no god, but Allah…”

For the duration of the FIFA World Cup tournament, the Qatari government has planned a major da’wa campaign. Qatari officials and government-funded institutions have recruited at least 2,000 volunteers to convey the message of Islam directly to soccer fans arriving from around the world as well as through thousands of books, posters, and pamphlets to be distributed on the occasion to advance this religious goal, according to a detailed report published by a pro-Taliban Urdu-language daily published from Pakistan.

Commenting on the religious mission at the FIFA World Cup, Qatari journalist Ebtesam Aal Saad also tweeted that Sheikh Zakir Naik and Sheikh Omar Abdelkafy, an Egyptian Islamic cleric, “came to Qatar to fulfil the superior religious mission, which Qatar has set as one of its goals for the success of the World Cup on the religious level”.

In a video posted on social media by Dr. Omar Abdelkafy and republished by MEMRI TV, Abdelkafy enters a large living room where Zakir Naik meets with him and brags about converting non-Muslims to Islam.

Zakir Naik is a leading figure of the global Islamist movement. In 2021, when the world was going through the Covid epidemic, a group of Islamist leaders from different countries led by Zakir Naik collaborated to establish a grand mosque and da’wa center in Oslo, Norway.

Da’wa turns problematic when non-Muslims do not convert to Islam. Eminent scholars of Islamic theology and jihadi groups have declared that non-Muslims must live as dhimmis, second-class non-citizens, and cannot share power with Muslims if they decide not to convert to Islam. For example the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA, i.e., the Afghan Taliban) has observed that Islam protects non-Muslims, meaning that non-Muslims must agree to live as dhimmis to be offered protection under Islamic shari’a.

Led by Zakir Naik, the global campaign to build the da’wa center in Oslo was launched with an explicit mission to convert Norwegians to Islam. A poster released on the occasion revealed that “around 2,000 Norwegians” had already converted to Islam as part of the da’wa movement.

The internationally known Islamist leaders who joined Zakir Naik to build the da’wa center in Norway included: Imam Siraj Wahhaj (US), Sh. Hussain Yee (Malaysia), Sh. Dr. Yasir Qadhi (US), Ali Da’wa (UK), Mohammed Hijab (UK), Sh. Assim Alhakeem (Saudi Arabia), Sheikh Shady Alsuleiman (Australia), and Sh. Alaa Elsayed (Canada), and Sh. Yusha Evans (US).

Several other Islamist scholars and activists whose name appeared on the poster seeking donations for the Oslo da’wa center included Sh. Muhammad Abdul-Jabbar (UK), Sh. Dr. Saeed Al-Qadi (UK), Sh. Dr. Haitham Al-Haddad (UK), Sh. Ahmed Ali (UK), Ust. Asim Khan (UK), Kamal Saleh (Australia), Ibrahim Jaaber (U.S.), Smile 2 Jannah (UK), Sh. Mansour Al-Salimi (Saudi Arabia), Omar Esa (UK), and Sh. Dr. Ali M. Saleh (Norway).

Of these Islamist leaders, Ibrahim Jaaber is an American-born Bulgarian football player while “Smile 2 Jannah [paradise]” is a nickname of a UK-based Islamist who welcomed Zakir Naik’s conversion of non-Muslims and tweeted a day before the FIFA World Cup inauguration: “558 people have reportedly embraced Islam over the past week in Qatar”.

Clearly, the Qatari government is using the FIFA World Cup tournament to advance the cause of da’wa, inviting non-Muslims to convert to Islam. As the soccer world cup got underway on November 20, 2022, some videos purporting to be from the FIFA World Cup tournament emerged on the Internet showing that Islamic religious scholars were engaged in converting soccer fans to Islam, though their timing and location could not be ascertained.

A Twitter handle, which calls itself Zakir Naik, has been tweeting his activities, and was created in June 2021, is followed by more than 146,000 people while the number of followers is growing rapidly since he arrived in Qatar. On the day of the FIFA World Cup opening, the account tweeted a picture of seats at the stadium where gift bags containing religious matter were kept for the soccer fans, saying: “A gift to the audience, a prayer rug, a toothpick, a book introducing Islam in 10 languages, a conversational barcode in all languages ​​of the world”.. In a video, Zakir Naik was seen meeting with Islamic scholars who had travelled to the FIFA World Cup tournament from Morocco, India, Malaysia, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and other countries.

MEMRI Reports About Zakir Naik from 2006 To 2021

A series of MEMRI reports and MEMRI TV clips, published from 2006 to 2021, documented Dr. Zakir Naik’s speeches and television broadcasts. These reports document how Zakir Naik has been consistently delivering controversial and hateful speeches promoting enmity against other religious communities and Western nations. Zakir Naik described George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and George W. Bush as terrorists, while refusing to call slain Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden a terrorist.

Even when appearing to reject terrorism, Zakir Naik uses a deliberately convoluted language to ensure that Muslims do not abandon the path of jihad. In a lecture in Singapore, he said: “It’s the duty of every Muslim to be a terrorist… [W]hat is the meaning of the word terrorist? A terrorist is a person who causes terror… The policeman is a terrorist for the robber. In the same way, every Muslim should be a terrorist for the anti-social element… I am aware that the word ‘terrorist’ is more commonly used for causing terror to innocent people; in that context, no Muslim should ever be a terrorist”.

The Islamic preacher has also justified polygamy, jihad, and slavery in the Islamic world: “Today, one of the biggest problems that the Western world is facing, which is not so much in the Eastern part of the world, is the surplus of women”, he said and went on to justify polygamy and expressed homophobic views. He observed: “New York alone has one million females more than males. Out of the population of New York – the statistics tell us – one third are gay. ‘Gays’ means sodomites… That means they would not like to have females as life partners. There are more than 25 million gays, sodomites, in America, in the USA. Another problem. Twenty-five million… In the UK alone, there are four million females more than males…”

Advancing antisemitic views among Muslim audiences, Zakir Naik has also accused Jews of controlling the world banking system. “Brother, there are Muslim-owned banks, but the major banks are owned by the Jews. And all the banks have gold security, and finally it goes to the Federal Bank [i.e., Federal Reserve]. You know the Federal [Reserve] in the US? The Federal [Reserve] in the US is not owned by the US,” he said on his Peace TV.

“Many people think that the Federal [Reserve] is owned by the US government. No. It is owned by seven individual families – and all of them are Jews. J.P. Morgan, Rockefeller, all of them. So your friend doesn’t know the banking system. He doesn’t know how it is controlled by the Jews. So the whole world [of] interest-based banking is controlled by Jews”, he added.

Zakir Naik was also barred from entering the UK and Canada, while his television channel Peace TV was fined by the British government for preaching hate and enmity against non-Muslim communities. Qatar’s hosting of Zakir Naik at FIFA World Cup shows that the radical preacher remains influential among Islamist governments and Islamic clerics around the world.

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

An internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, research-scholar, counter-terrorism specialist, and editor of Blitz. Follow him on Twitter Salah_Shoaib

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