Saturday, January 16, 2021

India: Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik charged with money laundering

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Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, whose speeches were alleged to have inspired one the gunmen responsible for the Dhaka café attack that cost 22 lives, has been charged with money laundering by the Enforcement Directorate, according to the agency’s filing in a Mumbai court.

The ED, the central agency mandated to probe financial crimes, told the court that it had linked assets worth Rs 193 crore as proceeds of crime. The agency has already attached Rs 50.46 crore assets, the agency said in its second charge-sheet against the televangelist.

Indian agencies had woken up to the controversial preacher’s speeches after one of the gunmen who participated in the 2016 Bangladesh attack told investigators that he was inspired by Naik’s speeches on his private channel, Peace TV. The channel, which reportedly broadcast from Dubai, was founded by the televangelist in 2006.

As security agencies took a hard look at its speeches, it came up with multiple instances of what was subsequently described as hate speech. “Naik deliberately and maliciously insulted the religious beliefs of Hindus, Christians and non-Wahabi Muslims, particularly Shia, Sufi and Barelwis, with intention of outraging their religious feelings,” the anti-terror agency National Investigation Agency that probed him told a court earlier.

“Investigations revealed that most of the incriminating speeches of Dr Zakir Naik were delivered during the 10-day Peace conference organised by Islamic Research Foundation in Mumbai during the period from 2007 to 2011,” the ED said in its charge-sheet. The conference was planned, organised, funded and promoted by the IRF and people of other religions were openly converted into Islamic religion by Dr Zakir Naik.

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