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Parents claim Rossmoyne students watched fundamentalist Islamic preacher Zakir Naik in school prayer room

Bethany Hiatt
The Nightly
3 Min Read
A parent claims that teens who visited a prayer room at a WA school were encouraged to watch videos of controversial Islamist preacher Zakir Naik famed for saying ‘every Muslim should be a terrorist’.
A parent claims that teens who visited a prayer room at a WA school were encouraged to watch videos of controversial Islamist preacher Zakir Naik famed for saying ‘every Muslim should be a terrorist’. Credit: Supplied

Teenagers who visited a prayer room at WA’s Rossmoyne Senior High School were encouraged to watch videos of a controversial Islamist preacher famed for saying “every Muslim should be a terrorist”, a parent has alleged.

In a complaint to police about “religious indoctrination on school premises”, the parent said their son had reported that students in the prayer room were “encouraged to watch video of Zakir Naik, who is (on a) criminal watchlist in India for spreading hatred and money laundering”.

“He was told not to inform parents and he should hide it,” the letter said.

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The parent wrote they had seen phone messages from “RSHS prayers group” that contained information about Islamic religion “targeting other students for conversion”.

Dr Naik is a Muslim fundamentalist with a medical degree who created a television network called Peace TV, based in Dubai.

Boasting more than 23 million followers on his Facebook page, the 58-year-old has been accused by Indian authorities of spreading Islamic extremism and recruiting for ISIS.

According to the international organisation Counter Extremism Project, Dr Naik follows a conservative brand of Wahhabi Islam and has allegedly “expressed sympathy for terrorists”.

Video clips have been widely circulated of him saying “I tell Muslims that every Muslim should be a terrorist” — but he has since claimed that was taken out of context and he was totally against terrorism or killing fellow humans.

“When I said a terrorist is a person who terrorises someone, I also gave an example that a policeman terrorises a robber. So, for a robber a policeman is a terrorist,” the India Times reported he said in 2016. “In this context, every Muslim should be a terrorist to the anti-social element.”

Peace TV was banned in Bangladesh after a 2016 terrorist attack on a café in the country’s capital, Dhaka, because of reports that some of the attackers may have been inspired by Dr Naik.

He moved to Malaysia in 2017 after Indian authorities charged him with money laundering and spreading hatred — claims that he has denied.

Zakir Naik is an Islamist televangelist with a medical degree who created a television network called Peace TV.
Zakir Naik is an Islamist televangelist with a medical degree who created a television network called Peace TV. Credit: Unknown

The United Kingdom and Canada have both banned Dr Naik from entering the country, but he continues to speak internationally.

When he visited Perth in 2002, Dr Naik told The West Australian that he believed America was engaged in terrorism by waging war in Afghanistan. He also said there was “no proof at all” that Osama Bin Laden was a terrorist.

Concerns about school prayer rooms being misused emerged after a radicalised teenager was fatally shot on Saturday after he stabbed a stranger in the back in Willetton.

The 16-year-old, whom The West is identifying as James, had called triple-0 stating he was going to kill all men in the area and made references to Australia’s support for Israel in the Gaza war.

James, who was in Year 11 at Rossmoyne, had been in a deradicalisation program since he was 14.

Education Department director-general Lisa Rodgers said this week she was arranging to meet faith leaders from religious communities across Perth “to discuss how we can ensure prayer rooms are always used appropriately”.

But on Wednesday she said there was “no evidence” that students were being radicalised in the prayer room provided at Rossmoyne.

“Students want to observe their faith during school hours for this space,” she said. “It was overlooked by classrooms, it was overlooked by an office and there was a staff member that supported the use of that space for those students.”

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