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Zakir Naik called World Cup Football haraam, now he's preaching at Qatar 2022

Amrutha Pagad
Amrutha PagadNov 22, 2022 | 12:58

Zakir Naik called World Cup Football haraam, now he's preaching at Qatar 2022

Zakir Naik who called pro football 'haraam' to give speeches at FIFA World Cup 2022. Photo: Getty Images

The FIFA World Cup 2022 being held in Qatar has become less about football and more about the unending controversies surrounding it. In the latest, it is fugitive Indian Islamic preacher Zakir Naik's presence at the World Cup. 

Zakir Naik is an Islamic televangelist who fled India after being charged with terror financing and money laundering. He's currently living in Malaysia, but is banned from giving speeches in the country. India, UK, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Canada have also banned him from giving speeches. His name has cropped up in several terrorist attacks from Bangladesh to Sri Lanka.

What now: An old video of Zakir Naik has now gone viral, which shows him calling professional football 'haraam' or a sin. Naik in the video says that while playing football for leisure and at small levels is okay, playing football at higher levels, especially global levels, is a sin in Islam. 

Ironically, Naik has been invited by Qatar to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the biggest football event in the world. He has accepted the invitation and is reportedly in Doha to give speeches throughout the tournament.

Who is Zakir Naik? It's not just Naik's conflicting comments on football that are being highlighted. In India, Naik has been accused of hate speech and encouraging Muslim youth to commit terrorist acts. 

  • Zakir Naik, a doctor by profession, was based out of Mumbai. He became an Islamic preacher after being influenced by Surat-born preacher Ahmed Deedat, who's also known for his terror links.
  • Naik runs the Peace TV and Peace TV Urdu channels that are banned in India. 
  • Terrorists of the 2016 Dhaka bombing, which killed 20, are said to have been influenced by Naik's speeches. 
  • Terrorists of the 2019 Sri Lanka Easter bombings, which killed over 250, are also said to have been influenced by the televangelist. 
  • He fled to Malaysia in 2016, just before the NIA in India started investigating him.
  • In 2019, the NIA found assets from Naik worth Rs 193 crore, which were identified as proceeds of crime. 
  • India requested Naik's extradition from Malaysia in 2020, but the then-Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Bin Mohamad denied the request. 

The 2022 World Cup has been rife with controversies for over a decade when it was decided that Qatar was to host the tournament. Since then, the issue has become much worse, with allegations of global-level corruption, human rights violations, homophobia and more.

Last updated: November 22, 2022 | 15:16
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