The noose is finally tightening around Islamic Research Foundation founder and President Zakir Naik. After the Enforcement Directorate having already issued an arrest warrant against Zakir Naik, a special NIA court issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against him on April 20, 2017.
Zakir Naik who is on the run since October, 2016 is believed to be hiding in either in Malaysia or Saudi Arabia. Zakir Naik run Peace TV is already banned in countries like Bangladesh and UK. The controversial televangelist came into limelight when the perpetrators of Dhaka terror attack were said to be inspired by his so called teachings.
Regrettably, the radicalization of Islamist televangelism has emerged as a serious challenge to the global democratic societies with Muslim populace. It has communicated the exclusivist messages of radical Islamism more effectively than even the sizeable corpus of extremist jihadist literature. Such Islamic TV channels have done an irreparable damage in the war-torn Middle Eastern societies who have vested political interests and propagate regressive religious “teachings” through the medium. That it has taken roots in South Asia is a matter of grave concern for the peace-loving and pluralistic people of the region. The channel was notoriously famous for airing inflammatory views against Hindus, Jews and Christians. Regrettably, the channel even called Sufis and Shias as grave worshippers and infidels. The channel used to have a viewership of over 100 million, majority of them in the war torn Middle Eastern countries.
It would not be wrong to say that Zakir Naik had a role to play in radicalizing ISIS sympathizers.
The extremist messages propagated by the Peace TV was investigated way back in 2011 when the Office of Communications, the British government’s official regulatory for broadcasting investigation found out that Peace TV labeled all other religions as “arch enemies of Islam”, often coming out with statements such as “if a Muslim changes his faith, he/she should be put to death” leading to his channel getting banned from UK and Canada.
However, bringing back Zakir Naik would be easier said than done. India has faced similar difficulties before and continues to do so. The difficulties the government is facing in bringing Lalit Modi and Vijay Mallya back is for all to see. India had also failed to secure the extradition of music composer Nadeem Akhtar Saifi who is wanted in the Gulshan Kumar murder case.
The biggest reason for India’s poor track record in bringing back fugitives from abroad are the glaring loopholes found in investigation done by the Indian agencies. It is often found to failing to match the standards of investigation as desired by the European countries. Evidence which we feel is tangible enough is not necessarily accepted in other countries. However, if Zakir Naik is indeed in Malaysia, India might have a ray of hope.
Joseph Sta Maria who is the representative of minority ethnic communities has called on the Malaysian government to revoke the permanent resident status(PR) given to Zakir Naik, who he alleges is trying to sow hatred and divide the peace loving Malaysians by demeaning other religions apart from being unpatriotic to his homeland. It is paramount that no country supports or harbors such radicals as it will only prove to be counterproductive.
Bringing back Zakir Naik from Saudi Arabia won’t prove to be heinous task, as apart from PM Modi’s excellent relations with Saudi Arabia, India has an extradition treaty with Saudi Arabia which was signed in 2010 after Abu Jindal who is facing trail for the 26/11 terror attacks was brought back from Saudi Arabia as a part of the treaty. The Enforcement Directorate is also seeking a move to revoke his passport and ask Interpol to issue a Red Corner Notice against Zakir Naik which will make him illegible to stay in any country and thus making it easier for the central agency to detain and question him.
Despite the noose tightening around the controversial preacher, the cull is yet far. The presence of such preachers like Zakir Naik would only worsen the condition of Muslims who are under scrutiny in light of the constant terror attacks by the ISIS making it easier for them to wrongly influence young gullible Muslims.
India needs to take cognizance of the peril looming large in the Islamic community, which is now making inroads in the Indian Muslim society. The World must unite against such radicals. It is one thing to deny extradition of Non-Performing Assets and defaulters like Lalit Modi and Vijay Mallya but supporting radicals like Zakir Naik will only expose the countries to the likes of ISIS and Al-Qaeda, endangering their own citizens.