Qatar, on Wednesday, informed India through diplomatic channels that Indian fugitive preacher Zakir Naik was not officially invited to attend the opening ceremony of FIFA World Cup held in Doha on November 20, 2022. It added that deliberate "disinformation" was being spread by third countries to spoil India-Qatar ties.
It is to be noted that Naik, who faces multiple charges of money laundering and hate speech in India, is expected to give multiple religious lectures throughout the FIFA World Cup tournament.
On Tuesday, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Savio Rodrigues appealed to the government, Indian Football Associations and Indians travelling to Qatar to boycott the FIFA World Cup 2022. Rodrigues took to the microblogging platform Twitter to urge Indians to boycott FIFA World Cup 2022. He stated that Naik is a "terror sympathiser" and an "Indian fugitive wanted on money-laundering and hate speeches charges" and added that Naik is instrumental in spreading Islamic radicalism and hate leading to terror.
Meanwhile, Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Singh Puri also said on Tuesday that India will raise the issue of Zakir Naik's attendance at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar and that swift action will be taken.
Earlier in March, the Home Ministry had declared Zakir Naik-founded organisation, the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) an unlawful association and banned it for five years. India banned Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation, accusing him of encouraging and assisting its followers in “promoting or attempting to promote feelings of enmity, hatred, or ill-will between different religious communities and groups.”
Zakir Naik reportedly left India in 2016 and moved to Malaysia, where he was granted permanent residency. Naik is banned in the UK and Canada for his hate speech against other religions. He is among the 16 banned Islamic scholars in Malaysia.
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