• Monday, January 30, 2023

ASIA

After India’s protest, Qatar says Zakir Naik was not formally invited to FIFA World Cup

Zakir Naik (Photo by MOHD RASFAN/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

Qatar, the host nation of the 2022 football World Cup that kicked off on Sunday (20), has conveyed to India through diplomatic channels that no official invitation was sent to fugitive Islamic preacher Zakir Naik to attend the tournament’s opening ceremony in Doha, reports said.

Sources said that Qatari authorities called the earlier reports deliberate “disinformation” that was being spread by third countries to affect their bilateral relations with India.

Qatar made the communication after India said that it would be forced to call off the visit by its vice president Jagdeep Dhankhar to the World Cup’s opening ceremony if Naik was formally invited to watch the inauguration of the quadrennial event from the VVIP box.

Dhankhar attended the event on Sunday and left Qatar the next day after meeting Indian expat blue-colour workers who helped in building the football venues for the mega event in the West Asian nation, the first in the region to host the marquee tournament.

Naik faces several cases of money-laundering and hate speech in India and his outfit, Islamic Research Foundation, is banned in the South Asian nation. He is also accused of encouraging his organisation’s followers in “promoting or attempting to promote feelings of enmity, hatred, or ill-will between different religious communities and groups.”

The controversial televangelist has also been accused of being involved in forceful conversions. A chargesheet was also filed against him for converting people to Islam.

India has also requested Malaysia, the country where Naik lives, for his extradition as he is accused of playing a role in riots in Delhi in 2020. New Delhi is currently pursuing a Red Corner Notice against the man by the Interpol. Naik is banned in countries such as the UK and Canada for his hate speeches.

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