Mumbai, July 13 (IANS): Controversial Mumbai-based televangelist and Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, who addresses audiences around the world, has no place to speak in Mumbai -- now.
At least four venues, including three five star hotels and the World Trade Centre (WTC), have declined permission to conduct Naik's press conference via Skype.
The WTC had confirmed the venue for Thursday's media interaction with Naik who is abroad but cancelled it today, an official spokesperson of the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) said.
"It's weird and unfair. What's going on? Apparently, hotels in Mumbai have been told not to give out venues for Naik's press conference," the spokesperson said.
Critics say Naik's Islamic teachings are radicalizing the young.
Earlier, Naik's spokesperson claimed at least four hotels had confirmed availability of venue and some even took the bookings but suddently cancelled them at the last minute.
"The latest is the WTC who called on Wednesday to cancel the booking." He said the IRF was trying to organize an alternate venue on a fresh date.
This is the second time in at least four days that Naik's scheduled media interaction via Skype was called off amid speculation about his impending return to India.
Naik - at the centre of a storm - is on a lecture tour in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Africa. He is likely to return to Mumbai after some two weeks, the spokesperson said.
While the Shiv Sena and others have called for his arrest, others like the AIMIM have come out in support of Naik, saying he was a victim of witchhunt.