Through diplomatic channels, Qatar has informed India that Zakir Naik, an Indian fugitive and ardent Islamist, has not received an official invitation to attend the November 20, 2022 FIFA World Cup opening in Doha. Qatar also asserted that third countries are spreading “disinformation” on purpose to harm bilateral ties between India and Qatar.
The official statement from Qatar followed a direct warning from the Modi administration to Doha that New Delhi would be forced to cancel Vice President Jagdeep Dhankar’s visit to attend the FIFA World Cup opening ceremony if Doha had formally invited Islamist Zakir Naik to watch the soccer event’s opening ceremony from a VVIP box. On November 20, Vice President Dhankar attended the event. The following day, he left Qatar, but not before meeting blue-collar Indian expat workers who had constructed soccer stadiums for the West Asian nation.
Although Qatar authorities said that Zakir Naik could be on a private visit to Doha but till now there has been no positive sighting of the Islamist.
It is believed that the Qatari administration informed its Indian interlocutors that the Zakir Naik scandal as a whole was the product of foreign actors and was a part of a larger disinformation campaign against Qatar.