No official invitation to Zakir Naik for FIFA World Cup, Qatar assures India
Qatar has informed India that no official invitation was extended to Indian fugitive and Islamist Zakir Naik to attend the opening of the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Doha. Qatar through diplomatic channels also claimed that deliberate “disinformation” was being spread by third countries to spoil India-Qatar bilateral relations, a Hindustan Time report said.
The formal communique from Qatar came after the Modi government told Doha that New Delhi would be forced to call off the visit of Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankar to attend the FIFA World Cup inauguration if Doha had formally invited Islamist Zakir Naik.
Vice-President Dhankar attended the event on November 20 and departed from Qatar the next day after meeting Indian expat workers who had built soccer stadiums in the country.
The Qatar authorities said that Naik could be on a private visit to Doha but till now there has been no positive sighting of him.
It is understood that the Qatar government told the Indian interlocutors that the entire controversy was engineered by third countries and as a part of a larger disinformation campaign against Qatar, the report said.
Earlier there were reports that Naik has reportedly been invited to give religious lectures at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The news was reported by several media portals and posted by verified Twitter users.
Wanted since 2016
While Zakir Naik, wanted by Indian authorities since 2016 for alleged money laundering and inciting extremism through hate speeches, was not seen around the FIFA stadium, he is known to travel to Qatar from his refuge in Malaysia.
In March 2022, the Union home ministry declared Naik-founded Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) an unlawful association under the UAPA and banned it for five years. India has also sent a request to Malaysia for his extradition for his reported role in 2020 Delhi riots.
India is pursuing a Red Corner Notice against Naik by the Interpol. He is banned in the UK and Canada for his hate speeches and is among the 16 banned Islamists in Malaysia.