Bangladesh took Islamic channel Peace TV off air Monday after its controversial preacher Zakir Naik’s provocative sermons were suspected to have inspired at least one assailant behind this month's attack on a cafe in Dhaka, according to reports.
The country's information ministry’s order comes a day after the Cabinet Committee on Law and Order decided to stop the telecast of the channel.
“Based on the cabinet committee’s decision, free-to-air TV channel Peace TV’s downlink permission has been cancelled for violating downlink conditions,” according to the ministry's order.
Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu told online news outlet Bdnews24 that administrative steps would be taken against the network. “Peace TV is not consistent with Muslim society, the Quran, Sunnah, Hadith, Bangladesh’s Constitution, our culture, customs and rituals,” he said.
India-based Naik, who founded Peace TV, has come under the radar for his speeches that allegedly incite hate. While Naik has been banned in the United Kingdom and Canada over his radical views, broadcast of Peace TV is prohibited in Canada, China, India, the U.K. and the U.S.
Following the July 1 attack that killed 22 hostages at the upscale Holey Artisan Bakery, several reports alleged that Rohan Imtiaz, one of the gunmen, was heavily influenced by Naik’s speeches. Reports also said that Imtiaz made reference to one of Naik’s speeches in a post on Facebook last year.
However, Naik denied allegations that the attacker was inspired by his speeches. He also accused Bangladeshi media of sensationalism.
“I spoke to Bangladeshi government people. They told me that they do not believe I inspired this Bangladeshi terrorists to do this act of killing innocent people,” Naik said Saturday in a video, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.
“There are millions of fans of mine throughout the world. More than 50 percent Bangladeshis are my fans but to say that I inspired him to kill innocent human beings is devilish,” Naik added.