Mumbai: Superstar televangelist Zakir Naik was forced to cancel his media interaction through Skype video conferencing scheduled for Thursday morning at Mehfil Hall in South Mumbai, citing pressure from the management of the venue to cancel the presser.
Now, Naik is expected to address the media on Friday in a banquet hall at Mazgaon area.
“The management of the Mehfil hall in Agripada, around 11 pm last night (Wednesday), told our team present at the venue that they cannot allow the press conference to take place and that we should dismantle and pack up all the venue arrangements we had made,” said IRF spokesman.
“Given no choice, our teams dismantled everything and left by around midnight,” added the spokesman.
Though Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation is trying to finalise a venue for the press conference but its spokesman added that ‘things look far from positive’.
“Although we continue to look for a venue, after five denials from various venues, things look far from positive,” he concluded.
Naik’s media interaction was first scheduled at Trident Hotel in South Mumbai, but the venue was subsequently changed to World Trade Centre. Later, the venue was again changed and a hall in the congested Agripada area of South Mumbai was chosen for the press briefing, which has also been cancelled now.
“All these venues, WTC specially, confirmed hall availability and ‘blocking’. WTC blocked the venue on Tuesday, and cancelled it on Wednesday, before the advance payments could be made and booking formalized,” he said. When asked if the press conference can be organised at its office in Dongri, the spokesman said, “It’s too small. It can hardly accommodate 25 people and few TV cameras.”
Though the IRF is exploring the venue for the press conference, the chances to get a place for the presser are bleak. “We are exploring. We’ve been doing that even now. But the chances of getting a venue for 80-100 people look very bleak,” said the spokesman. “For past two days we’ve been looking for a venue that can take 80-100 people, 20 camera tripods, and a big enough section for 20 photographers. That’s a really large hall we’re talking about, which we’re not getting,” he said.