Mumbai: In a move which could be embarrassing for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the bogey of media personnel which is running a dubious campaign against Dr. Zakir Naik, Chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) Zafar Sarehswala said he knew the Islamic preacher and his family since years, and he could never be an anti-national.
In reply to a question by News24 after Zakir Naik's press conference on Friday, Zafar Sareshwala, said to be very close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said he has known Dr Zakir Naik and his family since last 20 years.
"I know Zakir Naik since last twenty years. I never found anything objectionable or anything which could be termed anti-national in his speeches", Sareshwala said in a telephonic conversation aired by News24.
According to News24, Zakir Naik in his press meet on Frdiay via Skype from Madinah had mentioned about his relation with Zafar Sareshwala.
In reply to another question, Sareshwala said Naik's speeches are all in public domain and it is ridiculous to order a probe against him.
"All his speeches are already in the public domain. There is nothing secret about them. Then, what's the logic behind ordering a probe?" he asked.
"There is nothing in his speeches which could inspire terrorists or anti-national activities", he said.
"You can have some differences with what he says. But, claiming that he inspires terrorists is absolutely wrong", he said.
Sareshwala opposed the suggestions to ban Zakir Naik or his speeches in India, and also refuted charges that Indian Muslims are being radicalised.
"There are 20 core Muslims in India and if few of them, five or one hundred, are radicals we cannot blame the entire community.
"It is like blaming the whole country for the wrongdoings of few citizens", he said.
Sarehwala, said to be the architect of Prime Minister Modi's Middle East policy and who was reportedly with him during his Saudi Arabia and UAE tours, also defended the foreign funding of Zakir Naik.
"There is a system in the country which takes care of foreign funds. How can such funds be freely used for anti-national activities and nobody even notice that", he said.
Zafar Sareshwala's support for Zakir Naik came amid the growing number of people who are protesting against the media trial of the Islamic preacher.
Meanwhile, it is also learnt thhat Zakir Naik has sent legal notice to media channells involved in dirty campaign against him.
Interestingly, the whole campaign of the India media is based on a perporated report by The Daily Star of Bangladesh. The newspaper however published a clarification saying it never reported that the terrorists involved in Dhaka attack were inspired by Zakir Naik.
The Daily Star also tendered apology for wrongly reporting that Zakir Naik is banned in Malaysia, a claim the Indian media is still carrying in their reports.