Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Qatar has conveyed to India through diplomatic channels that no official invitation was extended to fugitive Islamic preacher Zakir Naik to attend the opening of the FIFA World Cup in Doha.

As per sources, Qatar has called the earlier reports deliberate ‘disinformation’ being spread by third countries to adversely impact India-Qatar bilateral relations.

The statement from Quatar came after New Delhi told Doha that it would be forced to call off Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankar’s visit to the FIFA World Cup if Zakir Naik is formally invited to the grand event.

Notably, #boycottqatar2022 trended on Twitter after several reports surfaced on various sections of media that the host country has invited Naik to deliver religious sermons at the World Cup events. A large number of Indians were upset with Qatar for Naik who is accused of hate speech.

Indian netizens appealed to the Narendra Modi government to summon Qatari envoy, just like Qatar did when Nupur Sharma insulted Prophet Muhammad, earlier this year.

Naik, who is currently in exile in Malaysia since 2017, is banned in India. He is known for his radical sermons, and is accused of forcible conversions, justifying suicide bombings and posting objectionable comments against Hindu deities.

Earlier in March, Home Ministry had declared Naik-founded Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) 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.