Qatar has informed India through diplomatic channels that no official invitation was extended to Indian fugitive and Islamist Zakir Naik to attend the November 20, 2022 opening of the FIFA World Cup In Doha and claimed that deliberate “disinformation” was being spread by third countries to spoil India-Qatar bilateral relations.
The formal communique from Qatar came after the Modi Government clearly told Doha that New Delhi would be forced to call off the visit of Vice President Jagdeep Dhankar to attend the FIFA World Cup inauguration if Doha had formally invited Islamist Zakir Naik to watch the grand opening of soccer event from VVIP box. Vice President Dhankar attended the event on November 20 and departed from Qatar the next day but not before meeting Indian expat blue-collar workers who had built soccer stadiums for the West Asian country.
While Zakir Naik, a radical Muslim who is wanted by Indian authorities since 2016 for alleged money laundering and inciting extremism through hate speeches, was nowhere to be seen around the FIFA stadium, he is known to travel to Qatar from his refuge in Malaysia. In March 2022, the Union Home Ministry declared Naik founded Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) an unlawful association under the UAPA and banned it for five years. India has also sent a request to Malaysia for his extradition as he is said to have had a role in Delhi 2020 riots. Currently, India is pursuing a Red Corner Notice against Naik by the Interpol. He is banned in the UK and Canada for his hate speeches and is among the 16 banned Islamists in Malaysia.
Although Qatar authorities said that Zakir Naik could be on a private visit to Doha but till now there has been no positive sighting of the Islamist.
It is understood that the Qatar government told the Indian interlocutors that the entire Zakir Naik controversy was engineered by third countries and as a part of a larger disinformation campaign against Qatar.