Even after the revelations of several terrorists across the globe confirming the influence of his Islamist propaganda, Zakir Naik is still actively propagating his extremist ideology via YouTube. Naik who is wanted in India for money laundering and extremism has been living in Malaysia with no intention of returning.
The government had banned the broadcasting of controversial channel of Zakir Naik called Peace TV. Though his channel is banned in the country, his propaganda continues to inspire more Islamists as he is not much restricted on the YouTube. From his videos on YouTube, it can be seen that he continues to propagate his preaching while insulting other religions.
It must be noted that the terrorists involved in the Dhaka attacks were influenced by the controversial preacher via YouTube. According to the policy of YouTube, it is quick to ‘limit’ the videos which are not advertiser friendly or simply say, not adhere to YouTube’s policies. But as seen in the case of Zakir Naik, his videos are readily available on the platform. He continues to preach from his verified channel named ‘Dr Zakir Naik’, which has over a million subscribers.
It must be noted that although it appears that the channel is not available in the country, but one can search and access his videos and ‘Subscribe’ to his channel.
The government must direct the YouTube to ban any substance relating to this man from the platform before it’s too late.
To get an idea of his role in the radicalisation of the terrorist, we must highlight here the case of Islamic extremist, Moulvi Zahran Hashim, linked to the Sri Lankan terror attacks or Easter attacks in the year 2019. According to Malaysia Chronicle, reports revealed that the suicide bomber and the mastermind behind the attack on the Shangri La hotel in Sri Lanka, had been identified as Moulvi Zahran Hashim. Hashim is said to be inspired by Naik, which becomes crystal clear when in one of his videos, he asked, “What can Sri Lankan Muslims do for Dr. Zakir Naik?”
Further, investigation had revealed that 2 of the 7 attackers who killed 20 people in Dhaka were ‘inspired by Naik’s preaching about Islam’. In light of this attack, his speeches were banned in Bangladesh and India. It wasn’t just the incident in Dhaka, Naik is said to have influenced various other terror attacks all over the world. Afghan-American Najibulla Zazi, the terror suspect accused of conspiring to bomb the New York subway in 2009, was said to be a follower of Naik’s preaching. Another of his followers was Dr Kafeel Ahmed, who attacked the Glasgow airport in 2007, and the 7/11 serial train blasts accused Rahil Sheikh. Moreover, sources say the chief of Hyderabad module of ISIS, Ibrahim Yazdhani, was deeply influenced by Naik.
Naik had launched his TV channel, Peace TV English, a Dubai-based channel for the propagation of Islam. Later he also launched Urdu and Bangla versions of Peace TV, which is banned in many countries including India as it was involved in spreading radicalisation and Islamist supremacist thought. To expose his mindset, he had even declared support for Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. “If bin Laden is fighting the enemies of Islam, I am for him. If he is terrorizing America, the biggest terrorist, I am with him. Every Muslim should be a terrorist,” Naik had said.
India had also banned his Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) in 2016 and declared him an offender by a special NIA court in 2017. He has been accused of inciting youth to take up terror activities, giving hate speeches and promoting enmity between communities. Since then, he has been living in Malaysia where he has been given permanent residence. Along with India and Bangladesh, Zakir Naik was also banned from entering Canada and UK due to his preaching and sermons.
YouTube and the government must act promptly to compactly ban the controversial preacher from the posting videos and further radicalising the people. This man’s preaching is directly responsible in radicalising the Indian sub-continent, his videos must be restricted.