Legal challenge to ban on Zakir Naik

An Indian Muslim preacher banned by the home secretary from entering the UK for his “unacceptable behaviour” is to challenge the ruling in the courts.

Zakir Naik, a 44-year-old television preacher, had been due to give lectures in Sheffield on 25 June and Wembley Arena the following day. Mr Naik is based in Mumbai, where he works for the Peace TV channel. The Islamic Research Foundation said in a statement:

“It is deeply regrettable the British Government has bowed to pressure from sectarian and Islamophobic pressure groups by preventing the entry of Dr Zakir Naik, who has been visiting and delivering talks in the United Kingdom for the past 15 years.

“Dr Zakir Naik is undoubtedly an opponent of terrorism and as such has often spoken out against all acts of violence and violent extremism. He has emphatically and unequivocally condemned the killing of civilians and is one of the world’s regular noted orators on this topic.

“In the wake of the exclusion order and based on legal advice, Dr Zakir Naik intends to bring the matter before the High Court … and request a judicial review to have the exclusion order overturned.”

BBC News, 19 June 2010

Meanwhile, the English Defence League are celebrating having secured “another victory by getting hate preacher Zakir Naik banned from entering Britain”. They have announced that they are calling off their Wembley demonstration on 26 June and holding it in Barking instead.