Indian Islamic preacher to challenge British entry ban

Mumbai, June 19 (Calcutta Tube) Mumbai-based Islamic scholar Zakir Naik Saturday said he plans to challenge the ban order on him by the British Home Office in British courts.

‘The decision is politically motivated by the new government. My lawyers have already examined it in detail and we have a very strong case,’ Naik, a 44-year old medico-turned preacher, told IANS Saturday afternoon.

Naik’s lawyers in Britain plan to move the concerned courts early next week to get a reversal of the June 16 order of Home Secretary Theresa May, served on him a day before his scheduled departure to London (June 17).

If the courts grant a stay on or a reversal of the exclusion order, Naik is hopeful of gong ahead with the planned peace conference convened by him there next weekend, or else it would be cancelled.

Expressing outrage over the exclusion order, Naik said he has been giving religious lectures in Britain since the past 16 years besides holding a five-year visa to enter that country.

‘I have traveled all over the world, but never before in my past 16 years, anywhere in the world have I faced such a situation. It is tantamount to a mockery of the freedom of speech and expression,’ Naik said.

Terming the decision as ‘a politically motivated one,’ he said that the new British government has been under pressure to ban persons indulging in radical propaganda.

‘Even I fully endorse this view and have said many times in the past that individuals misguiding people in the name of religion should not be tolerated. But, strangely, I have been singled out for this exclusion order,’ he said.

He claimed that the British authorities are worried about the spread of Islam and the manner in which non-Muslims flock to his lectures all over the world.

He also accused the British Home Office of relying on certain manipulated and mischievous media reports to slap the exclusion order on him.

‘But, we have a strong case and my lawyers believe a reversal of the exclusion order is possible,’ he said.

Mumbai-born Naik is a qualified doctor who gave up his medical profession to specialize in a comparative study of all different world religions, highlighting the similarities and good points in them.

He belongs to a family of medical professionals hailing from Ratnagiri in Maharashtra’s costal Konkan region.

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