Furious at the United Kingdom for barring his entry, controversial Muslim leader Dr Zakir Naik has decided to initiate legal proceedings in the Bombay High Court to challenge the revocation of his visa and the 'maligning' of his character by Britain's department of home affairs.
Dr Naik, accompanied by advocate Majid Memon and noted film maker Mahesh Bhatt, made the announcement on Tuesday.
Dr Naik, a resident of Mumbai, was scheduled to leave for UK on June 18. A day before his departure, the British high commission hand delivered an order revoking his visa that was valid till 2013, on the grounds that his speeches were not conducive for the public.
The order had cited four extracts of his speeches, which, according to him, were 'misquoted and out of context'.
Dr Naik alleged that the UK home affairs department's decision was a political one. "The decision to revoke my visa was preceded by a news article in The Sunday Times on May 30 titled 'Preacher of Hate'. The article had also quoted me out of context," said Dr Naik.
The Sunday Times had reportedly quoted Dr Naik as saying that every Muslim should be a terrorist.
"I said this in the context that when a robber sees a policeman, he is terrified. So for a robber, the policeman is a terrorist. So in that context, every Muslim should be a terrorist to the robber and anti-social elements," he explained. He added that he had made this statement during an interview to a newspaper in 2003.
The order of the British home affairs had quoted one more extract of a speech in which he had made references to Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. The quotes sourced from You Tube and reproduced in the order read as "Beware of Muslims saying Osama bin Laden is right or wrong, I reject them, we don't know. But if you ask my view, if given the truth, if he is fighting the enemies of Islam, I am for him. I don't know what he is doing. I am not in touch with him. I don't know him personally. I read the newspaper. If he is terrorising the terrorist, if he is terrorising America the terrorist, the biggest terrorist, he is following Islam."
Dr Naik said that the order stated that the speech was made in 2006, whereas it was actually made in 1996, when Osama was not very well known.
"What I said about Osama was much before the terrorist attacks of 9/11 (in the United States), which I have condemned. My comments about Osama made in the past cannot be linked to recent world events. I have always condemned the killing of innocent people by terrorists," said Dr Naik.
In the third extract, Dr Naik has been quoted criticising the killing of people in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon in the same vein as the killing of innocent persons in terror attacks in New York, London and Mumbai. "Is the life of a person in the UK and United States more important than a person dying in other parts of the world such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon? How am I wrong in saying this," questioned Dr Naik.
Memon, a noted lawyer, pointed out that revoking Naik's existing visa was a much more serious matter than refusing a visa. "I cannot digest the fact that the entire home affairs department was blinded unwisely and rashly on this matter. Interestingly, this decision cannot be appealed. I am afraid this is terrorism," he said.
Film maker Mahesh Bhatt said that the Centre, which objected to actor Shah Rukh Khan being frisked and detained at a US airport by security officials, should support Dr Naik in this case.