29 November 2023

Interpol has for the third time rejected India’s request for a Red Notice (RN) to provisionally arrest Muslim preacher, Zakir Naik while questioning the very basis of invoking money laundering and hate speech charges against Naik in the country.

Responding to India’s request to arrest Dr Naik on charges of alleged money laundering, the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) in its order noted that the mere fact he raised money from his religious teachings and spent it is “irrelevant” and cannot amount to money laundering, Hindustan Times reported.

Dismissing the evidence furnished by the India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) for the provisional arrest of Naik for extradition to India, the commission for the control of Interpol’s files noted that asking for donations during speeches and the recording or diffusion of speeches were not in itself a criminal act that could constitute the component of criminal offence for money laundering.

The Interpol panel highlighted that promoting religion and religious views could not be per se considered as committing a criminal act and there was no close link between the alleged incitement by Naik and any ensuing act of violence. It ordered deletion of data on Naik from Interpol files.

In November 2016, the Indian government banned Naik and his organisation Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) for five years. Naik is currently in Malaysia and has secured a permanent residency there.

Advocate S Hari Haran, representing Naik at various legal fora, confirmed the panel’s order, adding the parties received a copy of Interpol’s decision earlier this week. The order was passed following a deliberation by the Interpol panel between January 25 and 29. –Independent Press

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