Director Mahesh Bhatt has recently been the subject of social media backlash after several videos of him praising hate preacher and fugitive Zakir Naik surfaced online, ahead of the scheduled release of his new film ‘Sadak 2’ on July 10. In one such video, Bhatt can be seen singing praises for the radical Islamist after he was denied entry into the United Kingdom by the government in 2010.
“At the onset, let me salute Dr. Zakir Naik for daring to lock horns with the mighty British Empire… I salute his audacity which comes from his Imaan… If he had any grey spot in his heart, he wouldn’t have risked locking horns with these bullies… The world is becoming the most entertained and the least informed one… We, as Indians, owe it to our brother (Zakir Naik) who is national pride, (and) a prized treasure,” Bhatt was heard as saying.
He then went on a hysterical rant against the United States, United Kingdom (UK), and other Western powers and drew irrelevant analogies with the Persian Gulf War to substantiate his claim that Naik should have been allowed to preach in the UK. “They call Dr. Naik the warmonger but history knows who is the warmonger”, the director advocated.
He added, “Are you going to believe in the opinions of those people who have the means to lie, buy wordsmiths, get newspapers, have TV networks by their side to market lies and hang a man like Dr. Naik? I will say No.” Bhatt urged the Indian government to intervene, stand up for Zakir Naik and plead his case.
Bhatt wanted to make a movie on the hate preacher
Mahesh Bhatt was invited as a guest on Zakir Naik’s Peace TV, recently fined £300,000 (around Rs 2.75 crore) for broadcasting hate speech, to address a group of Muslims. On being asked whether he would feature the hate preacher in his films, Bhatt stated, “The life of Zakir Saheb is a fascinating story in itself. It contains material for a feature film. I don’t know whether Zakir Naik will want to play the role of a hero in the movie. We can find someone to play his role, provided he gives me permission to do so. Please get the idea approved from him and then only I can make a film.”
Speeches of Zakir Naik inspired extremists
In a shocking revelation by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) last year, most of the 127-odd terrorists arrested by security agencies in India for suspected ISIS links were inspired by the speeches of radical Islamic preacher Zakir Naik. According to reports, National Investigation Agency director YC Modi speaking at a conference of anti-terror teams said that terrorists and their sympathisers who had joined ISIS were inspired by speeches made by Zakir Naik. He further outlined the emerging terror challenges before the country at the conference of top police officers. He also highlighted that the Bangladesh-based terror outfit Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) had expanded its footprints in Kerala, Karnataka, and Maharashtra.
It may be noted that David Coleman Headley, an accused in the Mumbai terror attack case, was reportedly close associate of Rahul Bhatt, Mahesh Bhatt’s son. As per reports, a day prior to the deadly Mumbai attack in 2008, Headley had warned Bhatt and asked him not to go to South Mumbai on 26th November, 2008, the day of the attack.