‘Hate preacher’ Zakir Naik travels from Malaysia to Qatar to give sermons during World Cup

L: Zakir Naik attending a World Cup event in Qatar Photo: @AskAnshul / Twitter. R: Dr. Zakir Naik speaks in the Maldives in May 2010. Photo: maapu / Wikimedia Commons
L: Zakir Naik attending a World Cup event in Qatar Photo: @AskAnshul / Twitter. R: Dr. Zakir Naik speaks in the Maldives in May 2010. Photo: maapu / Wikimedia Commons

As if this World Cup wasn’t controversial enough already…

Zakir Naik, a highly controversial Islamic preacher from India who currently resides in Malaysia, has reportedly flown to Qatar to give religious sermons while the country hosts the world’s most-watched sporting event. 

Naik, who is currently a wanted fugitive from Indian authorities on charges related to terror financing, money laundering and hate speech, has been living in Malaysia since being granted permanent resident status there in 2017.  

A presenter on Qatari state-owned sports channel Alkass, Faisal Alhajri, said on Twitter that Naik was in Qatar and would “give many religious lectures throughout the World Cup”.

Photos on social media also show the Naik in attendance at World Cup-branded events. 

The firebrand preacher’s presence in Qatar during the World Cup comes amid a chorus of criticism against the host country over its decisions to impose religious restrictions on visitors including a last-minute ban on most alcohol sales at the matches

Naik, who is often labeled a “hate preacher” by the media, has been accused of promoting a radical version of Islam that endorses terrorism and discrimination against other religious groups. He reaches a massive global audience of around 200 million people via Peace TV, a satellite television network he started that is based in Dubai. The channel has been banned from a number of countries and Naik himself has been banned from entering the UK and Canada over hate speech concerns.

In Malaysia, Naik has been banned from public speaking since 2019 after he gave a contentious speech in which he responded to calls that he leave the country by saying that Chinese Malaysians were also “guests” in the country and that if guests like him were being asked to leave for their divisive views, the older “guests” should leave first.

Zakir Naik issues apology to non-Muslims for being offended, banned from public speaking in Malaysia
Well, well – more developments in the ongoing feud of Zakir Naik versus Malaysians everywhere. Earlier today, the beleaguered televangelist issued what we can best describe as the public relations…
Zakir Naik issues apology to non-Muslims for being offended, banned from public speaking in Malaysia
Well, well – more developments in the ongoing feud of Zakir Naik versus Malaysians everywhere. Earlier today, the beleaguered televangelist issued what we can best describe as the public relations…

The Indian government has made attempts to extradite Naik from Malaysia to face criminal charges of money laundering, but these requests were rebuffed by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. 

Some analysts believe that Mahathir resisted India’s requests as he was concerned that extraditing Naik would be used to further portray his Pakatan Harapan coalition as anti-Muslim. Some reports allege that it was Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) officials who convinced Mahathir not to allow Naik’s extradition. PAS officials have strongly defended Naik over his past controversial statements.

PAS was one of the big winners in Saturday’s national election in Malaysia, winning 49 seats in parliament compared to the 18 it won in 2018. It is expected to play a powerful role in the country’s administration if the Perikatan Nasional coalition gets majority support to form a government.

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