Qatar Denies Inviting Islamist Preacher Zakir Naik To FIFA World Cup Opening

While Naik was not seen around the FIFA stadium, he reportedly did travel to Qatar. Commenting on his visit, Qatar authorities said Naik could be on a private visit to Doha.

Qatar Denies Inviting Islamist Preacher Zakir Naik To FIFA World Cup Opening
Islamist preacher Zakir Naik (Image: Twitter/ANI/File)

As India raised objections to Islamist preacher Zakir Naik being given a stage at the FIFA World Cup, Qatar reportedly denied inviting the Indian fugitive to attend the opening ceremony in Doha. The Islamic nation alleged that deliberate “disinformation” was being spread by other nations to hurt the ties between India and Qatar.

Qatar passed this message to India through diplomatic channels, according to a Hindustan Times report. The West Asian country clarified no official invitation was extended to Naik for the November 20 opening of the FIFA World Cup.

Taking exception to Zakir Naik's presence in Doha, the Indian government had told Qatar that it would be forced to call off Vice President Jagdeep Dhankar's visit to attend the FIFA World Cup inauguration. However, Vice President Dhankar took part in the opening event and also met Indian expat blue-collar workers who had built soccer stadiums for Qatar.

Outlawed televangelist Zakir Naik is wanted by Indian authorities since 2016 in various cases. He has been accused of money laundering and inciting extremism through hate speeches.

While Naik was not seen around the FIFA stadium, he reportedly did travel to Qatar. Commenting on his visit, Qatar authorities said Naik could be on a private visit to Doha.

In March this year, the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), founded by Naik, was designated as an illegal group under the UAPA. A five-year ban was imposed on the organisation by the Union Home Ministry.

Accused of having played a part in the 2020 east Delhi riots, Naik has taken refuge in Malaysia. India has issued a request to Malaysia for his extradition. India is currently looking into an Interpol Red Corner Notice issued against Naik. He is among the 16 Islamists who are prohibited in Malaysia and has been banned in the UK and Canada for his hate statements.

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