By Ayushi AgarwalNew Delhi [India], November 21 (ANI): Reacting to reports that Indian fugitive preacher Zakir Naik is set to give religious lectures at the FIFA World Cup, 2022 in Qatar, former Indian Ambassador to Qatar, KP Fabian stressed that we should not react or over-react to such reports as these are all "delicate matters" and we should look at the bigger picture regarding the relationship between the two countries.
"India should not react or overreact. Qatar has not invited this person because he is a fugitive in the Indian Justice system...Don't take it as an act which is directly against India. You should also look at the big picture of Indo-Qatar relations. We have about 8 lakh of our people there. We are getting LNG from them and some of our companies are working and doing very well there. So, taking all that into account, my view is that there is no need for us to react. These are all delicate matters", said the former envoy.The ex-envoy though added that 'according to his sources in the Qatari Government', the video circulating on social media is 'old' but added that 'assuming' it is correct then 'we should not react or overreact.
"A source fairly close to the Qatar government has told me that the news is not correct and that some old video is being circulated. But let us assume that it's correct. And how should India react...My view is that India should not react or overreact", added Fabian.
Zakir Naik faces charges of money laundering and hate speeches in India. In March, this year the Home Ministry declared Naik-founded Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) an unlawful association and banned it for five years.
The MHA notification stated that the speeches of Zakir Naik were objectionable as he has been extolling known terrorists.
The MHA notification also stated that evidence presented to the tribunal by the Solicitor General, shows on record that Zakir Naik continues to travel to Gulf nations to raise money, all of which are being used solely for radicalising people, especially Muslim youth.
Naik fled to Malaysia in 2016, just before the National Investigation Agency started a probe against him.
Notably, the FIFA World Cup 2022 will be the first time the event has taken place during the fourth quarter of a calendar year. The scheduling was reported to be due to the extreme weather conditions in Qatar during June and July, the months in which the tournament is typically held.
In total, 32 teams from five confederations are competing in Qatar. As many as 64 matches will be played during the course of 29 days.
The teams are hosts Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, the Netherlands, England, Iran, USA, Wales, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland, France, Australia, Denmark, Tunisia, Spain, Costa Rica, Germany, Japan, Belgium, Canada, Morocco, and Croatia, Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon, Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea.
Notably, the 2022 FIFA World Cup tournament is the last with 32 participating teams, as the field will increase to 48 teams when Canada, Mexico and the United States will host the 2026 tournament.
France is the defending champion, having won their second title in 2018 after defeating Croatia in the final.
Most notably, it is likely the last World Cup tournament for Lionel Messi, the Argentina striker - who is considered one of the greatest ever footballers of all time. It is also highly likely that 37-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo will don the Portuguese colours for one final time.
This marks the first time the Middle East is hosting the event. It is also the first time the World Cup is being held outside the typical June-July window, in order to avoid the desert heat during the summers in Qatar. (ANI)