BAND OF FANATICS: THE ZAKIR NAIK SHOW

4 03 2009


Source: weekly Blitz

– VOLUME – 4, ISSUE – 9, DHAKA, FEBRUARY 18, 2009


Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury



To a large section of the television viewers in Asia, Dr. Zakir Naik is a known name. This is mostly because of the prominent presence of his Islamist television channel named ´Peace TV´, which claims it to be the ´solution for humanity´. Dr. Naik operates this channel from Britain under the banner of an organization named Islamic Research Foundation and Peace TV runs with heavy donation and contribution by Muslims from a part of their Zakat, as well as donations from various Afro-Arab sources. According to Islamic dictionary, Zakat or ´alms for the poor´ is the Islamic principle of giving a percentage of one´s income to charity. It is often compared to the system of tithing and alms, but it serves principally as the welfare contribution to poor and deprived people in the Muslim lands, although others may have a rightful share. Zakat’s similar-sounding, Arabic language analog is the Hebrew word Tzedakah, the charitable obligation in ancient Israel through to present day Judaism. It is the duty of the Islamic state not just to collect Zakat, but to distribute it fairly as well. Zakat is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

Speakers in PeaceTV, who regularly appear in the programs are Dr. Zakir Naik [India], Ahmed Deedat [South Africa], Dr. Bilal Philips [Canada], Yassir Fazaga [USA], Abdur Rahim Green [UK], Hussein Ye [Malaysia], Dr. Jafar Idris [Sudan], Salem Al Amry [UAE], Dr. Israr Ahmed [Pakistan], Maulana Parekh [India] etc. But, only one person, who occupies almost 65 per cent of the program segments of this television channel, is Dr. Zakir Naik himself. And, surely, with the slogan of ´solution for humanity´, Dr. Zakir spreads religious hatred, poison, and regularly attacks Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and other religions in the world and cleverly tries to project Bible, Torah and other Holy Scriptures as fake or changed. Dr. Zakir Naik, being a fanatic Muslim not only tries to continue his own way of spreading religious hatred and extremism through his so-called lectures but even promotes the idea of jihad and Islamist aggressions. He has definitely found a very effective tool, when he was able to establish PeaceTV, and now continuing his hate speech agenda as well as his own publicity and promotional programs to project other members of his family as ´Islamic Scholars´ [which includes his minor son and daughter]. And millions of dollars donated mostly by Muslim from the portion of their Zakat fund is going right inside the pocket of Dr. Zakir Naik, and he leads a very lavish life while spending this fund not only for running his own PeaceTV but also for buying luxury and comfort for other members of his family.

By profession although Zakir Naik claims himself to be a medical practitioner, it is not clear as to why he left this noble profession thus entering the full time job of one of the most expensive Islamist lecturers in the world. The fact is, Dr. Zakir Naik is a failed medical practitioner, who found the excellent opportunity of memorizing only some selected verses of Koran and other Holy Books thus appearing to the people with his own interpretation of Islam and very tactfully injecting poison of religious hatred as well as jihadist notion.

Most interesting part of Dr. Zakir Naik is, he also considered to be the champion of his mockery and cheating people around the world, with hundreds of people listening to his lecture in ´Hinglish´ [English in Indian pronunciation] with fullest dedication. In reality, let it be noted that, only a small segment of Indian population are comfortable with English. Moreover, the huge crowd shown in Zakir´s lectures in India is mostly half educated clergies who surely do not understand what Zakir speaks of. If any of the programs will be carefully watched then it will become clear that the audience have no reaction at all on what he says, rather they just sit with semi open or even closed eyes in front of television cameras, thus giving chance to Dr. Zakir Naik to claim to be educating a huge crowd. Some critics even say that, most of these audiences are hired by Islamic Research Foundation with the objective of giving an impression mostly to the patrons of Dr. Zakir and his PeaceTV in the Middle East, that, Islam is really becoming increasingly powerful and prominent in a non-Muslim country like India.

According to some experts, while Al Qaida serves the armed segment of religious terror, Dr. Zakir Naik´s PeaceTV covers the media segment of the same agenda. For example, Dr. Zakir will first attract the attention of people towards his lectures by giving similarities between Islam and other religious beliefs, while at the next step, he comes up to prove all other religions to be fake and Holy Scriptures false through a number of programs like ´Crossfire´, ´Truth Revealed´ etc. Some even opine that, while Al Qaida´s existence is mostly in hiding, Zakir Naik is continuing his offensives openly, which is a much greater threat to global peace and harmony.

In one of the programs on PeaceTV, Dr. Zakir Naik said in Urdu, Jesus Christ never claimed himself to be a Christian. And according to Zakir, Jesus was also a Muslim. By saying this, Dr. Zakir wanted to convince the audience that, there is no divine religion except Islam in this world, since the ancient times.

Dr. Zakir Naik is gradually expanding his influence over a number of media bases in Europe, America and Asia. Recently in Glasgow [UK], a radio presentator named Rev. Mahboob Masih was sacked from a radio station named Awaz FM just because he his co-presenter Afzal Umeed were discussing the views of a prominent Muslim speaker, Zakir Naik, who the Rev Masih accuses of belittling the Christian faith on Peace TV, a digital channel.

Later, Rev. Masih lodged a complaint with Ofcom, the radio regulator, claiming that Awaz FM is in breach of the terms of its license. It alleges “discrimination against members of Asian Christian Community by [the] Muslim management of Awaz FM.”

Commenting on Dr. Zakir Naik, an eminent Indian sociologist Imtiaz Ahmed said, “Brought up on the heavy dose of Saudi Arabia-backed Salafist-Wahabi Islam, Naik follows a supremacist ideology.”The Saudis think they have a divine right to convert Muslims across the world into a puritanical Salafist Islam. Naik is their public face,”

He said, “The exclusivist Wahabism is inimical to an inclusive, tolerant Islam practiced in India. I have heard him a couple of times on TV and am deeply disappointed.”

Dr. Zakir Naik, on a number of occasions, defended Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaida. His remark on Osama bin Laden had created quite a controversy some time back. “If Osama bin Laden is terrorizing America or the enemies of Islam, every Muslim should become a terrorist. I can’t call Osama a terrorist because his involvement in the dastardly act of 9/11 is not proved,” Naik had said, defending the most wanted man in the world.





Lahore ‘Cricket’ attack may mark a shift in Pakistan

4 03 2009

Source: Asia Times

By Syed Saleem Shahzad, March 04, 2009.

KARACHI – Pakistan might recently have signed peace deals with militants in its tribal areas, including with vehement anti-establishment Pakistan Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, but militants on Tuesday staged a brazen attack in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province and the second-largest city in the country.

The attack by 12 heavily armed gunmen on a convoy escorted by police transporting Sri Lankan cricketers to a match against Pakistan has set off alarm bells in the capital Islamabad that militants are now taking their battle into major urban centres.

At least five people died and six of the cricketers were injured in a 25-minute battle in which militants wearing backpacks and carrying AK-47s, rockets and grenades fought police. The assailants then all fled. The Sri Lankan cricketers have called off their tour and are heading home immediately.

The attack bore some similarity to that of 10 well-armed gunmen, also with backpacks, who rampaged through Mumbai in India last November, killing 140 people. They were later found to have connections to the banned Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

“This was a planned terrorist attack. They had heavy weapons,” Salman Taseer, who heads the provincial government as governor of Punjab, was reported as saying. “These were the same methods and the same sort of people as hit Mumbai.”

Numerous Pakistani analysts have been quick to point a finger at India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) for staging what they say is a tit-for-tat attack on Tuesday, although there is been no official announcement in this connection.

A press attache at the Sri Lankan Embassy in Islamabad thought it highly unlikely that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who a waging a bloody separatist war in Sri Lanka, had anything to do with Tuesday’s events.

Rather, judging by what was shown on Pakistani television, the attack is the hallmark of those that were waged by militants (many of them Punjabi) against Indian security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir up until a few years ago. They were trained by the Indian cell of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

In 2005-06, these militants joined forces with the Pakistani Taliban and the Afghan resistance after Pakistan closed down their training camps in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, a move that changed the dynamics of the war theater in the region. Beside the Mumbai attack, Tuesday’s assault was similar to the storming of the Serena Hotel in the Afghan capital of Kabul in January 2008 and the unsuccessful July 2008 attack on Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul. In all of these incidents, the attackers abandoned their weapons and quickly melted into a thickly populated area of the city where, apparently, they were whisked away by waiting colleagues.

Retired Lieutenant General Hamid Nawaz, a former interim minister the Interior and a close aide of former president General Pervez Musharraf, commented to Asia Times Online, “This proves that striking peace deals [with militants] will not serve any purpose and there is a need to handle them with iron hands. I blame the government for negligence.

“Providing a single elite police commando bus was not enough. They should have been provided VIP [very important people] security like the state provides for governors and chief ministers. Traffic should have been blocked on their route,” Nawaz said.

Former Pakistani cricketer Zaheer Abbas said, “I am not a politician to comment on who was behind it, but it has damaged Pakistani cricket very badly. I don’t understand why anybody would target Sri Lankans because they don’t have any role in the region. There might be some forces who want to damage the cause of Pakistan and Pakistani cricket.”

Possible attackers

Pakistani analysts, including retired General Hamid Gul, who is a former head of the ISI, blame India’s RAW.

However, there is no precedence for RAW having the capability to carry out such attacks in Pakistan. Its operations in Pakistan have been of two kinds, according to the records of Pakistani security agencies, documented in files and books narrated by their retired officials:

Small bomb blasts in urban centres.

The use of Indophile political parties such as the Awami League in 1970, the Pashtun sub-nationalist Awami National Party, the Baloch separatist group the Baloch Libration Army and the Muttehida Quami Movement.

However, these parties were always used in a limited political context. For creating a law-and-order situation in the country, RAW has always used bomb blasts and other small-level sabotage activities. It has never had the capacity, like the ISI had in India, to use armed groups to carry out guerrilla activities in Pakistan.

More pertinent is to view Tuesday’s attack in the context of the peace deals in the Swat Valley and the tribal areas which have stopped the fighting between ethnic Pashtun-dominated militants and the Pakistani army.

Prior to the signing of the deals, the matter of the release of militants who did not belong to the Swat area was raised, that is, non-Pashtun militants. These included Maulana Abdul Aziz, who was apprehended while trying to flee the radical Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad in July 2007.

However, after deciding on the level of compensation packages for the families of militants killed or injured by the security forces and other matters related to Swat and the tribal areas, the matter of non-Pashtun militants was deferred and the peace agreements were signed.

In effect, non-Pashtun militants have been ignored and the attack in Lahore could be a bloody message to the government that the “Punjabi militants” have the capacity to cripple urban centres at any time and place of their choosing.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online’s Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com