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Home » Opinion » Govt, forget porn sites, ban the likes of Zakir Naik and Peace TV

Govt, forget porn sites, ban the likes of Zakir Naik and Peace TV

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Zakir Naik (The Sun Daily)

What constitutes as a matter of national interest? Adult Indians enjoying porn within the confines of their homes or Indians, irrespective of age, having access to hate speech? So how is it that the government banned 857 porn sites a year ago with such alacrity and failed to monitor an unlicensed television channel like Peace TV and one of its patriarchs, Zakir Naik? Two of the Bangladeshi terrorists allegedly drew inspiration from Naik and his sermons. Whether he incited them or not is hardly the question. Naik and his words are militant enough to fan communal disharmony.

I’m assuming that a lot of research must have gone into finding and banning the 857 porn sites. Not a completely odious task, I’m sure. And yes, the government machinery has also been proactive to chastise comedians such as All India Bakchod and give unnecessary importance to people like Tanmay Bhat who mock and satirize celebrities. To the government, this must surely be a matter of grave importance as compared to hatred-mongering Peace TV.

The Dubai-based free-to-air channel says in its website that it embodies the “quest for promoting truth, justice, morality, harmony, wisdom and PEACE for the whole of humankind.” Since its inception in 2006, Peace TV has been investigated by various foreign government agencies including the UK broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, in 2011. Peace TV has failed to register with the Information and Broadcasting Ministry in India since 2009. But has been airing without fear in India even today.

Sources say that the government is pushing the pedal on unlicensed channels now. And this is happening now, long after the channel has been under the scanner because of the Bangladesh terror attack. Naik, who has been banned from making public addresses in the UK, Canada and Malaysia, and his Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) will also be probed.

I spent hours labouring over Naik’s various speeches. From refusing to call Osama bin Laden a terrorist to hailing George Bush as the No. 1 terrorist, Naik in his tongue-in-cheek manner has his audience both entertained and entranced. He urges all Muslims to be terrorists, defends suicide bombing as the “last resort”, calls Babri Masjid, 9/11, and Godhra incident inside jobs, and dismisses popular clippings of the Taliban assaulting women as rehearsed enactments.

Watch some clippings here:

In the last 24 hours, Naik’s Facebook page has more than five posts denouncing terrorism and the Bangladeshi attack. He has called ISIS “anti-Islamic” but the damage has already been done. Bespectacled, bearded, and wiry, Naik wears suits a size too big for him, teamed with an Islamic prayer cap. He aims to cater to the aware, educated, worldly-wise and well-travelled Muslim audience. No wonder that his friendly, personable speeches in fluent English interspersed with his interpretation of the Quran, reaches out easily to the impressionable youth. This doctor-turned-preacher’s Islamic evangelism missed the Indian security agencies’ eye. But that’s not surprising because our government’s priority has been the harm that porn, comedy, and satire can have on our youth. Hate speeches, it seems, are okay.

Shutapa Paul is Group Editor-in-Chief of Newsd and tweets at @ShutapaPaul.

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