[The authorities have expressed alarm about Dr. Naik’s message and the reach of his influence. Dr. Naik, who was trained as a medical doctor and who addresses his followers in Western-style suits, has a television channel, Peace TV, that is popular with Muslims globally. In his speeches, Dr. Naik has harshly criticized the United States, saying that the Sept. 11 attacks may have been an “inside job” by President George W. Bush.]
By Nida Najar
Zakir Naik, a popular televangelist preacher, spoke by videoconference in July.
In his speeches, Dr. Naik has harshly criticized the United States.
Credit Rajanish Kakade/Associated Press
NEW DELHI — The Indian government has banned a nongovernmental organization run by a popular televangelist preacher, Zakir Naik, after accusations that he promoted terrorism through his speeches.
The decision to ban the organization, the Islamic Research Foundation, was made at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, said K. S. Dhatwalia, a spokesman for the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The foundation, based in Mumbai, will be banned for five years under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, a law governing groups and individuals who act counter to the integrity of India.
Mr. Dhatwalia said that the foundation had violated “certain provisions” of the act. He declined to specify what those provisions were but said that they had been conveyed to the organization.
The authorities have expressed alarm about Dr. Naik’s message and the reach of his influence. Dr. Naik, who was trained as a medical doctor and who addresses his followers in Western-style suits, has a television channel, Peace TV, that is popular with Muslims globally. In his speeches, Dr. Naik has harshly criticized the United States, saying that the Sept. 11 attacks may have been an “inside job” by President George W. Bush.
Dr. Naik has also refused to renounce Osama bin Laden as a terrorist.
“I am hesitant to accept him as a terrorist or a saint,” Dr. Naik said in a 2009 interview. He also characterized Islam as “the most misunderstood religion in the world.”
Dr. Naik is often evasive when questioned over his more inflammatory statements, including one that supported suicide attacks. In a news conference in Mumbai in July, in which he appeared by videoconference from Saudi Arabia, he said that suicide attacks in which innocent people were killed were un-Islamic, but that the use of the tactic was justified in war.
The authorities in India, with its long history of tension between Hindus and Muslims, have monitored Dr. Naik’s activities, including his speeches and charitable work with the Islamic Research Foundation, which seeks to spread “the proper presentation, understanding and appreciation of Islam,” according to its website. That scrutiny escalated after a Bangladeshi newspaper reported that one of the attackers in the July assault on a bakery in Dhaka that left 22 people dead had quoted Dr. Naik’s teachings in a Facebook post.
Peace TV has been banned in Bangladesh, and Indian satellite channels have refused to carry it, but Dr. Naik’s sermons still have a large audience in India and abroad.
At the July news conference in Mumbai, he denied supporting terrorist activities and said that he did not encourage the Dhaka attacks.
In past years, the Indian police have registered cases against Dr. Naik over objectionable speeches he has made, the local news media reported.
At the conference in July, however, Dr. Naik said, “Never ever in my full life have I been called for investigation.”
Dr. Naik said that one of his videotaped speeches that was used as the basis for one of the cases filed in India was “doctored,” and “because of the clip, many of the Hindus were hurt and I said that I apologize for hurting their feelings.”
The Islamic Research Foundation was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.
Ayesha Venkataraman contributed reporting from Mumbai.