RIYADH – Seasoned Islamic preacher Doctor Zakir Naik has been granted citizenship by Saudi Arabia, according to media reports.
The citizenship was awarded to the cleric reportedly by King Salman at a time when he has been booked under an anti-terror law in India.
Zakir, who enjoys a massive fan following in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh faced a tough time after he was accused of inspiring terrorists who attacked a cafe in Dhaka, through his video sermons.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had filed an FIR against Naik and his associates in November.
His organisation Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) was also banned by the Narendra Modi administration and he was staying in Saudi Arabia ever since he came under the scanner.
The 51-year-old Islamic cleric came under the Indian government’s radar after the Bangladeshi government accused him of making speeches that could have incited some of the terrorists who attacked a Dhaka cafe in July, killing 20 people although Zakir refuted any such claims.
Dr Naik’s spokesperson Aarif Malik said the controversial Islamic preacher will join the investigation if called for questioning.
“We have always maintained that Dr Naik will always be available for any probe launched by any Indian law enforcement agency. Our position has not changed,” said Malik from Mumbai.
Moreover, in an open letter to the Indian government in September, Mr Naik sought clarification on the charges leveled against him and termed those an “attack on Indian Muslims” and against “peace, democracy and justice”.