New Delhi/Mumbai: Leading Muslim organisations including Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Markazi Jamiat-e-Ahle Hadees Hind, All India Milli Council, Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), Urdu Journalist Forum and a host of top clerics and Muslim scholars and community leaders on Saturday extended support to Islamic Preacher Dr. Zakir Naik, with some even suggesting that the vilification media campaign against him is an attempt to bully Indian Muslims as a whole.
Founder of Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) Dr Zakir Naik is under the scanner following revelations that two of the five young militants who massacred 20 hostages, including an Indian, at a popular cafe in Bangladesh's capital Dhaka on July 1, drew their inspiration from his speeches.
Dr. Naik denies the allegations saying he did not agree to the notion that the terrorists were inspired by his speeches. The Government of Maharashtra and Union Home Ministry have ordered a probe into his speeches, writings and other materials.
“The Bjp – Shiv Sena led Government of Maharashtra is misusing its administrative powers in the name of enquiries and investigations to harass and bully moderate Muslim Organizations”, Shahanshah Jehangir, National Secretary of Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) said in a statement released to media.
Defending Dr Naik, he said, “Dr.Zakir Naik is a research scholar on Comparative Religion and not a Scholar to comment on Islamic Religious Issues. A large majority of Muslims have differences with various opinions of Dr.Zakir Naik.
"However it is also a fact that the Dr. Zakir Naik is well respected in many countries of the world, and has received Honors from the Governments of many Islamic countries too for his research on comparative Religion. That does not mean he was an inspiration for terrorist attacks in Dhaka or worldwide."
Condemning government for initiating probe against his work he said, “The question is not only of Dr. Zakir Naik as an individual. It is the tendency and conspiracy to label as terrorist everything related to Indian Muslims, and a larger conspiracy to level charges of terrorism against Indian Muslims and arrest them under false pretexts”.
He further said Hindutva forces’ plan is to target and tarnish every school of thought of Islam, every religious leader irrespective of Salafi, Shia or Sunni school of thought and create an environment of mistrust between religious communities, fear and hate against Indian Muslims , so that this polarization helps the right Wing forces in the coming Uttar Pradesh elections and in their agenda to turn India into a Hindutva fascist state .
Citing one such example, he said that in the recent past reputed Sunni Islamic Organization like Raza Academy have been harassed without any reason. In Malda district of West Bengal, a protest was organized by the Sunni Islamic Organizations, against Blasphemy of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) by Kamlesh Tiwari and a minor scuffle broke out with the police but the Right Wing forces tried to paint it as terrorism and an inter – religious violence.
The Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) on Saturday while condemning the media campaign against Dr. Zakir Naik, called it a conspiracy hatched up by the saffron brigade supported by its cohorts in the media to malign the popular preacher.
"The Union Government has started a crackdown on Dr. Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) and Peace TV with the aid of a section of prejudiced media who are showing his statements cut in half and false allegations are being levelled against him since he speaks with evidence that idol worship is not allowed even in Hinduism and advocates monotheism", Elyas Thumbe, National General Secretary of SDPI said in a statement.
“Dr. Zakir Naik is a well-known orator in comparative religion. Let police and government agencies carry a proper investigation. It is a sad commentary by some anchors of news channels who want action against Dr. Naik without any inquiry, whatsoever”, he said.
Thumbe said propagation of mass lies and falsehood without any investigation can never be a criterion to defeat truth and justice. Dr. Zakir Naik always told people of all religions to forget their differences and come together based on commonality between them. He always advocated Muslims to spread peace to all. He never said to blow up innocents in the name of terrorism.
Thumbe expressed concern that BJP in power at the Centre and in Maharashtra is clearly making Dr. Zakir Naik a scapegoat, who is a man of impeccable knowledge, not only Islam, but Hinduism, Sikhism and Christianity as well.
In a statement released to the media, Nusrat Ali, Naeb Emir Jamaat-e-Islami Hind said the whole campaign against Dr. Zakir Naik is against the rights as defined in the Constitution of India.
"The vilification campaign against Dr. Naik is against the freedom of conscience, and free profession, practice and propagation of religion as defined in the constitution. It should be stopped immediately", he said.
He said keeping in mind respects of other religions and within the framework of the constitutional rights Dr. Zakir Naik is preaching and highlighting the true teachings of Islam like hundreds of preachers belonging to other religions.
"Dr. Zakir Naik's speeches and debates are listened by millions of people across the world and since last many years. It is surprising that his speeches are now given a particular colour and a campaign is underway to disturb the secular fabric of the country", he said.
"Such attempts might be useful for short-term political gains. But, they are becoming a blot on India's image and sending a wrong message vis-à-vis the inclusive multi-cultural identity of the country", he said.
Mahmood Darybadi, President of the All India Milli Council, Mumbai also extended support to Dr. Zakir Naik and slammed the media for running shameful campaign against him.
'We have differences of opinions on some religious issues with Dr. Zakir Naik. But, attempts to paint his entire efforts as something which propmotes terrorism and violence is absolutely wrong and misleading", he said in a statement.
Daryabadi also accused the media of bias and termed the entire campaign against Dr. Zakir Naik a deliberate and planned exercise to target the preacher on the basis of cooked up allegaitions.
"In the last 3-4 days, several journalists called me for my reactions on the ongoing debate on Dr. Zakir Naik. Because of my differences with Dr. Naik, they expected me to follow their own lines. When I refused, they cesnored my actual views and declined to publish", he said.
"It clearly shows that the entire exercise has behind it a celever, well calculated and planned motives", he said.
Asghar Ali Imam Mehdi, General Secretary, Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadees Hind in a signed statement slammed the media campaign against Dr. Zakir Naik and termed it a deliberate attempt to divert attention from government's failure to address the key issues facing the country.
"Terrorism is the worst challenge the country and the world is facing today. ISIS (Daesh) and other terrorist organizations are biggest temptation and trial in today's world. These organizations have been deliberately created to achieve many targets by powers working with vested interest", he said.
"Muslims have nothing to do with these organizations. It is most shameful to target Dr. Zakir Naik and other Muslims in this manner. It is nothing but an attempt to divert attention from the government's failure", he said.
He said Dr Naik is known for his message of peace and harmony, and there are numerous examples in his speeches wherein he has slammed terrorism and violence in strongest possible words.
"It is shameful that image and integrity of such a person is maligned for cheap and shirt term political gains", he said.
"The forces behind this ugly campaign should know that by running such malicious campaigns against renwoned and respectable public figures they are only tarnishing the country's image and its bright history", he said.
In the wake of the onlging debate, Asghar Ali Imam Mehdi appealed the union government to refrain the media from indulging in such negative campaigns and focus on the peace, harmony and integrity in the country.