Chennai: Several Muslim outfits staged a protest here Saturday, expressing solidarity with popular Islamic preacher Zakir Naik and criticised the Centre and the Maharashtra government for trying to "stifle" the voice of a man of "peace and harmony."
The protesters, including from Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), criticised the governments at the Centre and in Maharashtra for trying to "stifle" the voice of a man of "peace and harmony" and said the launch of a probe against Naik was against the Constitution.
"Don't distort Article 25 of the Constitution," they said, adding that action against Naik went against its spirit.
The protesters said Article 25 provides one the right to profess, practise and propagate religion and it should not be infringed upon.
Several women among them displayed placards saying, "Dont distort the Constitution."
Protesters also raised slogans like "Don't insult a world preacher," "We support Zakir Naik," and also displayed placards blaming the BJP-led Centre for "religious intolerance and prejudice."
Naik, who is currently in Saudi Arabia, is under the scanner of state and central agencies for his alleged incendiary speeches.
On Friday while addessing media persons from Madinah, he rejected charges that his sermons inspired terror activity and claimed that he has never encouraged anyone to kill innocents and that he would co-operate with any probe agency if it approaches him.
Talking to mediapersons in Mumbai via Skype, Zakir Naik, who is facing heat over charges that he inspired some of the Dhaka cafe attackers, condemned all terror attacks and dubbed himself as "a messenger of peace".
Leading Muslim organisations like Jamiate Ulema, Jamaate Islami Hind, Markazai Jamiat Ahle Hadees Hind and others including Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), All India Majlise Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), Welfare Party of India have already extended support to Zakir Naik.