Over 500 people belonging to various Islamic groups protested on Saturday morning in Chennai against the central government's move to put Islamic scholar and preacher Zakir Naik under the scanner.
Both the Maharashtra government and the centre have launched an investigation into Naik's channel, "Peace TV", on charges of allegedly inspiring terrorism and justifying acts of terror.
Former Ramanathapuram MLA M H Jawahirullah also took part in the protest, which involved 24 groups including the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), the Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam (TMMK), and the Social Democratic Party of India.
One of the main demands of the protestors was for the government to stop portraying the preacher of international acclaim as a terrorist. They said that while they did not dispute the right of the government to investigate Zakir or the organisations he is affiliated to, but did not want the preacher to be pre-judged.
Earlier, speaking from Saudi Arabia, the preacher said that he does not plan to return to India this year.
Claiming that his statements were "doctored and tampered out of context", the controversial NRI televangelist on Friday asserted that he was a "messenger of peace" and unequivocally condemned all terror and terrorist activities. He also revealed that he was a "Non-Resident Indian", enjoying residential status in Dubai, Saudi Arabia and some other countries, and visited India occasionally, including during the holy Ramadan month.
To allegations that he was not cooperating with the police, Naik said that he was never summoned by the police and was ready to cooperate with the investigation.