Banned hate preacher to speak in Canada

Muslim preacher Zakir Naik

Muslim preacher Zakir Naik

The Muslim preacher who has been banned from coming to Britain by Home Secretary Theresa May is to headline a religious conference in Canada.

Zakir Naik has been asked to speak at the Journey of Faith Conference in Toronto next month, July 2-4, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

The invitation follows the decision by Mrs May to exclude Dr Naik from the UK.

She said: “Numerous comments made by Dr Naik are evidence to me of his unacceptable behaviour.

“Coming to the UK is a privilege, not a right, and I am not willing to allow those who might not be conducive to the public good to enter the UK. Exclusion powers are very serious and no decision is taken lightly or as a method of stopping open debate on issues.”

Dr Naik has risen to international prominence and popularity in the Muslim community as a result of his appearances as a television evangelist for Peace TV satellite channel. He was due to start a speaking tour of Britain at venues including Wembley Arena in London, Sheffield Arena and Birmingham’s LG Arena.

But some of his remarks have led to him being called a “hatemonger” by Monmouth Tory MP David Davies.

He has said that former US president George W Bush was behind the attack on the Twin Towers, that “every Muslim should be a terrorist” and that “people who change their religion should face the death penalty."

A spokesman for the CST welcomed the decision, and said: "Zakir Naik is known for his derogatory attitude towards non-Muslims and he has an ambiguous attitude towards terrorism. The concern is that anyone should be wanting him here in the first place, particularly to address such large venues."

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said they deplored the move and that the government had "responded to a recent campaign of vilification". Describing Dr Naik as a "renowned mainstream Islamic scholar", they added that banning his visit "serves to demonise the very voices within the world ready for debate and discussion".

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, the Secretary General of the MCB said: "This exclusion order demonstrates the double standards practised by the government concerning freedom of speech.

"While preachers of hate such as Geert Wilders are free to promote their bigotry in this country, respected Muslim scholars such as Dr Naik are refused entry to the UK under false pretences.

"It is deeply regrettable this is likely to cause serious damage to community cohesion in our country."

Last updated: 3:13pm, November 2 2010