FIFA: What Qatar said to India over Zakir Naik’s ‘invitation’

26 November, 2022 | Riya Girdhar

What Qatar said to India over Zakir Naiks invitation to FIFA World Cup World

According to Arindam Bagchi, the ministry of external affairs' spokesperson, "The subject of Zakir Naik being wanted has been discussed with Qatar."

The Modi administration made it plain to Doha that New Delhi would have to cancel Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar’s trip to attend the FIFA World Cup opening ceremony if the claims that Naik had received an official invitation to the event were accurate.

Following a controversy over claims that Doha had extended an invitation to the fugitive Islamic preacher Zakir Naik to attend the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the Narendra Modi administration said on Thursday that it has brought up the matter with the Qatari authorities.

Zakir Naik has not received an invitation from Qatar to attend the FIFA World Cup 2022, according to Bagchi.

The Modi administration made it clear to Doha that New Delhi would be required to cancel Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar’s trip to attend the FIFA World Cup opening ceremony if the reports of Naik receiving a formal invitation to the event were accurate, according to Hindustan Times, which broke the story yesterday.

Through diplomatic channels, Qatar informed India that the banned Islamic preacher had not received an invitation and that a comprehensive “disinformation” campaign was being run to sour relations with India.

After seeing the blue collar workers from India who assisted in building the stadiums for the major event, Dhankhar did attend the event on November 30 and departed for India the following day.

In India, Zakir Naik is wanted on suspicion of money laundering and using hate speech. He left India in 2016 after 22 people were slain in a café bombing in Dhaka by terrorists who claimed to be his followers. The Center issued a five-year ban on him and his organisation, Islamic Research Foundation, in November of that year. He presently holds a permanent residence in Malaysia.

The MHA labelled his IRF an illegal organisation under UAPA in March of this year. Naik is allegedly connected to the 2020 Delhi riots, so India has also sent a request to Malaysia for his extradition.

He is among the 16 Islamists who are prohibited in Malaysia and has been banned in the UK and Canada for his hate statements.