Islamic preacher and televangelist Zakir Naik today issued an open letter to India in which he has termed the five-year ban on his Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) as an attack on "Muslims, peace, democracy and justice". Titled 'Facing The Foregone Conclusion', the letter also alleges that the ban was timed with the "demonetisation fiasco" to avert resistance and divert media attention. The 51-year-old has also asked why the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) does not apply to BJP MP Yogi Adityanath and right-wing leader Sadhvi Prachi, who are also seen making inflammatory speeches.
"The law does not seem to apply to the likes of Rajeshwar Singh, Yogi Adityanath and Sadhvi Prachi who continue to make inflammatory speeches aimed at inciting communal hatred for mere political mileage," he wrote.
Last week, the government banned the IRF and declared it a terrorist organisation under the UAPA for five years.
"Let us not be gullible to think this was just an attack on me. It is an attack on whom I represent, the Indian Muslims. It is an attack on peace, democracy and justice. I will pursue all legal options to repeal this ban," the IRF founder said.
Naik is currently out of the country, and reportedly believed to be somewhere in Africa. Away from India since the past few months, the controversial evangelist did not come to attend the funeral of his father Abdul K. Naik, who died on October 30.
Here's the full text of Zakir Naik's open letter to India
"NOT GIVEN A CHANCE TO ANSWER"
The 51-year-old preacher said he has been banned by the government without being given a chance to answer any question.
"Before investigations were done, even before reports submitted, the ban was already decided. IRF was to be banned. Whether it was owing to my religion or some other reason, does not matter. What now matters is that my work of 25 years - completely lawful work - has been banned. And that is the most unfortunate thing for this country," Naik said in his letter.
"No notice, summons, calls, no contact was ever made with me to get my side of the story. I kept offering my help but it wasn't taken," he wrote.
Last week, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) raided multiple locations linked to the IRF, an office of Peace TV owned by him, residences of various office bearers of the NGO and the TV channel, and froze a bank account.
The IRF shot into limelight following allegations that Naik's teachings and preachings had inspired terror strikes, including the terror siege on a Dhaka cafe in July this year that left over 20 people, mostly foreigners including an Indian woman, dead.