Recently rumors surfaced on social media that Indian Fugitive Zakir Naik had been invited to the FIFA World Cup inauguration on November 20, 2022 in Doha. Qatar claimed that deliberate “disinformation” was being spread by third countries to spoil India-Qatar bilateral relations. The clarification came after India conveyed its displeasure at the news of Zakir Naik being invited to the global event.
The formal communique from Qatar came after the Modi Government clearly told Doha that New Delhi would be forced to call off the visit of Vice President Jagdeep Dhankar to attend the FIFA World Cup inauguration if Doha had formally invited Islamist Zakir Naik to watch the grand opening of soccer event from VVIP box. The Qatari government said the entire Zakir Naik controversy was a fabrication by other countries and was part of a larger propaganda campaign against Qatar.
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. However, Fifa presenter Faisal Aljahri had tweeted earlier: “Preacher Sheikh Zakir Naik is in Qatar during the World Cup and will give many religious lectures throughout the World Cup.”
Earlier in March, the Home Ministry had declared Zakir Naik-founded organization, 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.”
Currently, India is pursuing a Red Corner Notice against Naik by the Interpol. He is banned in the UK and Canada for his hate speeches and is among the 16 banned Islamists in Malaysia. Zakir Naik reportedly left India in 2016 and moved to Malaysia, where he was granted permanent residency.