NEW DELHI — King Salman of Saudi Arabia has granted Saudi citizenship to Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik, according to media reports on Friday. However, official sources or media in Saudi Arabia have yet to confirm the news. According to online publication, Middle East Monitor, which reported it first, Saudi Arabia had intervened to grant Dr Naik the citizenship to protect him from arrest by the International Police Organization, Interpol.
The Indian court had issued a second arrest warrant against Dr Naik asserting him in a terror-related case and over money laundering allegations. Dr Naik, who was on tour at that time, decided not to return to India and remained in Malaysia where permanent residency status was granted to him five years ago by the Malaysian government, reported middleeastmonitor.com.
The 51-year-old Dr Naik had left India last year after some perpetrators of the Dhaka terror attack claimed they were inspired by him.
Indian press reported that the country’s enforcement officials were moving to revoke his passport and request Interpol to issue an arrest warrant for him.
It was believed that Dr Naik, who had by then moved to Saudi Arabia, would be forced to return to India if his passport was revoked.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 Dr Naik, moved to revoke his passport while a special court sent out an arrest warrant for him.