Mumbai, July 15 (IANS): Claiming that his statements were "doctored and tampered out of context", controversial televangelist Zakir Naik on Friday asserted that he was a "messenger of peace" and unequivocally condemned all terror and terrorist activities.
He also revealed that he was a "non-resident Indian", enjoying residential status in Dubai, Saudi Arabia plus some other countries, and visited India occasionally, including during the holy Ramadan month.
Condemning in his opening remarks on Thursday night's terror attack in Nice, France, which claimed at least 84 lives, Naik termed as "misinformation" that he had ever advocated suicide bombings. "I have been preaching for 25 years and I have always condemned terror attacks, suicide bombings since in this innocent people are killed and it is 'anti-Islam'," the Mumbai-based preacher said, addressing the media via Skype from Saudi Arabia, where he currently is.
"However, it (suicide attacks) may be used as a tactic of war to save the country, but in all other circumstances where innocents are targeted, it is 'haram' in Islam and condemnable," Naik explained.
Claiming that his speeches have been "purposely quoted out of context", Naik rejected outright the contention that he supported terror and said he was being subjected to a media trial. He challenged the media persons to prove him wrong since he had the original recordings and could easily verify the doctored tapes doing the rounds on social media networks.
"There are some other speakers on Islam who preach that when you kill others or non-Muslims, you will attain paradise. But such speakers are actually misguiding the people, misrepresenting facts and are anti-Quran," Naik said.
To a question, he said he had never been summoned by the police anywhere but was prepared to cooperate with them for any kind of investigations. "I am an NRI but when my media team informed me of the developments, I decided to come here for a few days to clarify my position," he said.
Naik's Peace TV and Peace mobile have been banned in Bangladesh following revelations that two of the young Islamist attackers who killed 20 hostages, mostly foreigners, during a Dhaka cafe siege on July 1 drew "inspiration" from his speeches.