The NEFA Foundation has released the fourth report in its series on extremist ideologues with influence in the West. This report profiles Zakir Naik, a Muslim orator from Mumbai, India, who has millions of fans around the world, including many in the U.S., that he reaches through live lectures and through his satellite television station, Peace TV.
His enormous popularity is due to his exceptional speaking and memorization skills. He is able to quote the Koran, the Bible, the Torah, and other religious texts, chapter and verse, and impresses audiences with his ability to cite numerous examples to support such claims as, apostates should be put to death, and it is acceptable for a man to beat his wife under certain circumstances and with specific techniques. Although Naik often makes such religious pronouncements he is not a formally trained religious scholar, and has been labeled “deviant” by some orthodox clerics.
While Naik is regarded as controversial by many observers and several government agencies (he has been banned from entering Canada and the UK), he does not publicly or overtly promote violent jihad. However, he bears observation because he insinuates that violence perpetrated against Americans is acceptable, and he has made statements that suggest he is in agreement with terrorist attacks that have taken place in the past. He was a source of inspiration to Najibullah Zazi, who plotted to attack the New York City subway system, several of the attackers and planners of the 2008 Mumbai massacre, and others charged with involvement in terrorism. He also promotes the theory that the 9/11 attacks were planned and coordinated by the U.S. government in order to gain control over oil-rich countries.
The full report can be read here.