As the anti-racism protests, triggered by the death of George Floyd, spread outside United States, the Black Lives Matter movement is fast becoming a rallying point for those who want to raise issues of oppression of people belonging to different faiths and races.
The latest entrant is controversial televangelist preacher Zakir Naik, who is living in Malaysia even as Indian security agencies have sought his extradition saying the radical Islamic preacher is wanted on charges of alleged money laundering and delivering hate speeches.
Naik ,who runs the channel Peace TV and has millions of followers worldwide, has pledged support of the Muslim community to the Black Lives Matter movement. In a statement issued on Monday, Naik said all Muslims should be part of the struggle of the “black brothers and sisters in America and worldwide, who are angry and grieving and fighting for their rights.”
“As Muslims, we should know that our fight for justice is meaningless if it does not call for an end to oppression for people of all faiths and races.”
Quoting extensively from the Quran, Naik has attempted to widen the debate on racism saying Floyd’s death is not just an example of shocking cruelty of the police and atrocities against black people. “Bigotry is not just a product of white supremacy,” he said .
In comments that can stir controversy and widen the scope of protests, Naik claimed that atrocities are being perpetuated against certain communities in China, India, Myanmar, and Israel.
“In China, thousands of Uyghur Muslims are being subject to unspeakable torture simply because of their religion. In India, Kashmiris are being rounded up and thrown into prison for crimes they did not commit, and barbaric atrocities continue to be committed on the dalit and lower caste men, women and children across the state. “
“In Myanmar, even as we speak, a genocide is taking place against the Rohingyas. In Israel, the crimes against the Palestinians go unchecked, unimpeded and unaccounted for, every day,” Naik said .
Urging the global community to join hands, he said, “Our silence is betrayal. We must stand up against injustice, regardless of the race, colour or religion of the victims. We must speak out against oppression of all kinds, even when it is inconvenient to do so, especially when it is inconvenient to do so.”
Naik said George Floyd’s cries of anguish will be heard each time bigotry rears its ugly head.
His fresh statements are likely to attract further attention and controversy as they come in the backdrop of the London-based regulator for the communications services in the UK slapping a fine on licence holders of Peace TV for breaking its broadcasting rules.