Qatar’s action is questionable

Qatar’s invitation to fugitive Islamist evangelist Zakir Naik to give religious lectures at the 2022 FIFA world cup is highly deplorable. By this, Doha has only ended up undermining the spirit of the biggest sporting event. The radical preacher, who also faces charges of money laundering and hate speech in India, has no place in an international sporting event.

In fact, it is ironic for any country to host someone who openly encourages terror attacks and makes public speeches promoting hatred against other religions. Qatar’s move is not only misguided and insensitive but also provocative. It sends a wrong message not only to India but also to the global community. FIFA needs to act and stop Qatar from doing such kinds of activities.

The radical preacher’s presence undermines the spirit of the beautiful game and goes against the core values of universalism and oneness that the hugely popular football tournament seeks to represent. In 2016, the Union Home Ministry had declared Zakir Naik-founded Islamic Research Foundation an unlawful association and banned it for five years. The MHA notification stated that the speeches of Naik were objectionable as he has been extolling known terrorists.

Naik was also found to be promoting forcible conversion of the youth to Islam, justifying suicide bombings, and posting objectionable and derogatory comments against Hindus, Hindu gods and other religions. Naik’s ‘Peace TV’ network is banned even in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Canada and the United Kingdom.

By inviting a person known for inciting religious hatred, Qatar has opened itself for public criticism. The questionable action of the gulf nation should be condemned by everyone.