Controversial Indian Islamic preacher Zakir Naik is the latest suspect introduced by Indian authorities in their investigation into the February Delhi riots, Indian news outlet The Quint reported on Wednesday.
In an application filed by the Delhi police on June 15, the police alleged that one of the accused in the riots, Khalid Saifi, met the preacher abroad and sought his support for “spreading his agenda.” Zaik, a fugitive now in Malaysia, denied knowing or having met Saifi, according to The Quint.
The incident has renewed political and religious debates surrounding the controversial preacher. On May 14, India requested the extradition of Naik. The fundamentalist preacher has lived in exile Malaysia for more than three years and has permanent residency in the Southeast Asian country.
Naik faces charges of hate speech in India, as well as money laundering. He is accused of acquiring $28m (€25 million) worth of criminal assets to buy property in India and finance events where he made “provocative speeches,” a claim he denies. He has repeatedly denied accusations that he provokes religious violence and says the media has “resorted to doctored video clips and a host of dishonest schemes” to accuse him of terrorism.
Experts have commented that the complex political nature surrounding Naik’s case – coupled with growing religious tensions in the region – can make the extradition even more difficult.
Who is Zakir Naik?
A proponent of the hardline Salafi school of thought in