New Delhi : The electronic media’s campaign against the Mumbai-based preacher Zakir Naik on the ‘Peace TV’ at the instance of the home ministry and intelligence agencies despite Maharashtra’s state intelligence department (SID) finding not enough evidence to book him has promoted several Muslim organisations to come out in open to support him and condemn his media trial.
Many Muslim leaders observe the present controversy involving Dr Naik as a small part of the larger plan of sectarian division among Muslims. Many commentators in the Muslim media have termed the controversy as attempt to move from Hindu-Muslim to Muslim-Muslim strife.
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.
Commentators have elaborated this theory in the background of the “World Sufi Conference” inaugurated in Delhi by Prime Minister Narendra Modi two months ago.
Describing the controversy in the background of this conference, one commentator on a news website said, “In the conference, Deoband was declared as ‘the epicentre of terrorism’ and all other schools like Wahabi (Ahl-e-Hadis), Jama ‘t-e-Islami and Tableeghi Jama’ at too were said to be linked with terrorism. The conference propagated this false notion despite it being an established fact that every Muslim group and organisation in India has condemned terrorism and issued umpteen statements and fatwas to this effect…The organizers of the Sufi event who have taken sides with BJP impressed that they were the only faithful and patriotic group among the Muslims in India.”
“Clearly the purpose of supporting, inaugurating and attending a Sufi conference now was not a lost-and-found love for Sufism. On the contrary it was an opportunity to widen the rift between Barelvi and Deobandi sects and pit them against each other for the benefit of BJP,” the commentator added.
All 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 have extended support to Dr Zakir Naik, with some even suggesting that the vilification media campaign against him is an attempt to bully Indian Muslims as a whole.
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.
Mahmood Darybadi, President of the All India Milli Council, Mumbai 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 promotes terrorism and violence is absolutely wrong and misleading,” he said in a statement. He 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 allegations.
The Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), while condemning the media campaign against Dr Naik, called it a conspiracy hatched up by the saffron brigade supported by its cohorts in the media to malign the popular preacher.