Saudi Arabia has granted Indian Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik, who is wanted by New Delhi for alleged terrorist offences, its citizenship.
According to Middle East Monitor, Arab sources reported that King Salman had intervened to grant Naik Saudi citizenship to protect him from arrest by the International Police Organisation (Interpol).
Local Indian media reported that the enforcement officials were moving to revoke his passport and request Interpol issue an arrest warrant for him in connection with his alleged role in a terror-related case and over money laundering allegations.
It was believed that Naik, who had by then moved to Saudi Arabia, would be forced to return to India if his passport was revoked.
The Mumbai passport office, which appears not to have anticipated Saudi Arabia granting citizenship to Naik, moved to revoke his passport while a special court sent out an arrest warrant for him.
First the Indian government in November last year decided to declare Zakir Naik’s NGO, Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), as an outlawed organisation for five years claiming that IRF was propagating terrorism.
Later, within few days of banning IRF an investigation agency raided 10 offices of the same NGO in Mumbai and other cities of India.
Then, a First Information Report (FIR) was filed against the preacher on charges of “spreading enmity amongst religions”.
Indian media reported that the case was filed against the cleric after the authorities examined his speeches aired on a religious television channel.
Last month, Indian courts issued a second arrest warrant for Dr Naik.
Naik, who was on tour during all these times, decided to remain in Malaysia where he managed to acquire permanent residency status from the Malaysian government.
The 51-year-old preacher left India last year, allegedly to evade arrest after some perpetrators of the Dhaka terror attack claimed they were inspired by him.