Digvijaya Under Fire for Sharing Stage With Zakir Naik in 2012
File image of Congress leader Digvijaya Singh with Zakir Naik
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh is facing fire for sharing the stage four years ago with Islamic scholar Zakir Naik who is under scanner over allegations that his speeches have inspired the Dhaka attackers.
Digvijaya had in 2012 attended a conference organised by Naik, where he had called the controversial religious leader a "messenger of peace who can help bring communities together in India."
Pictures of him hugging the controversial Islamic preacher are now being circulated on social media under the title "friend" of Naik.
Reacting to the controversy, the defiant Congress leader said he had spoken against communal elements at the event he attended. He also said that the Centre was free to investigate the charges against Naik.
It is true that I participated in his programme. I spoke about attacking all communal elements. I also appealed for communal harmony. Let the government investigate [name]Digvijaya Singh[/name]
The BJP has hit out at Digvijaya for sharing the dais with Zakir Naik. "Congress party’s sympathies are always with terrorist organisations. So this is not surprising for us," BJP national spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao said.
Naik, who is president of the Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), had on Wednesday denied that he ever said that all Muslims should be terrorists. He claimed that the video which allegedly shows him making the statement was doctored.
Reports suggest that two of the Dhaka attackers - Rohan Imtiaz and Nibras Islam - who hacked to death 20 people at Holey Artisan Bakery restaurant were inspired by Naik's speeches.
"It is totally illogical to say that I promote terrorism. Not a single investigative agency says Dr Zakir Naik promotes terrorism. The Home Ministry is most welcome to go through all my speeches," Naik told CNN-News18 over the phone.
"I inspire many people because I have a large following. These people might have been inspired by me but I don’t know them personally. I fear media and politicians because they might malign my image. There are people who are using my photographs and misquoting me to defame me. I welcome any investigation against me," he added.
"I always preach no Muslim should terrorise anybody. Anyone who kills people, whether he is Muslim or non-Muslim, will go to hell. I said every Muslim should be a terrorist to all anti social elements. It is unfortunate that people are alleging that I am promoting terrorism," Naik said.