Charity Commission shuts down charity which funded Dr Zakir Naik’s Peace TV

Dr Zakir Naik. Editorial credit: fuadstephan /

The Charity Commission has shut down an Islamic charity linked to Dr Zakir Naik’s Peace TV after the National Secular Society repeatedly raised concerns about extremism.

The regulator ordered the Islamic Research Foundation International (IRFI) to be dissolved after an inquiry found it had funded TV programmes which incited “violence and murder.”

IRFI was removed from the charity register earlier this month.

The accusations against Peace TV all seem to relate to orthodox Islamic positions on various social issues.

In a statement the Charity Commission said it found misconduct and/or mismanagement by the trustees of IRFI. This includes their decision to continue to fund Peace TV channels despite several breaches of Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code.

The Commission opened an inquiry into IRFI in April 2020, after engagement with the trustees about the charity’s governance and their report of a serious incident regarding the media regulator Ofcom’s investigation into Peace TV channels.

Ofcom’s investigation found that since 2009, Peace TV channels repeatedly broadcast programmes that breached the Ofcom Broadcasting Code. This included programmes that “incited violence and murder, and programmes containing hate speech and abusive treatment.”

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The inquiry found that the trustees mismanaged the charity and did not act in its best interests. This included their decision to continue funding for Peace TV.

The inquiry also concluded that the trustees repeatedly failed to consider changes or alternatives for applying charitable funds and did not learn any lessons following Ofcom’s adverse findings.

Between 2015 and 2020, 96% of the charity’s expenditure, amounting to around £3.6million, was granted to Universal Broadcasting Company, the parent company of the Peace TV channels’ two licence holders.

In July 2020, the Commission appointed an interim manager to take over the management and administration of the charity to the exclusion of its trustees and to make a determination as to the charity’s viability.

The interim manager concluded that the charity was no longer viable. The Commission issued an order to direct the interim manager to wind-up the charity, which was removed from the register on May 11. The charity’s remaining funds of £57,950 have been transferred to three charities with similar objects.

Tim Hopkins, Assistant Director, Investigations and Inquiries at the Charity Commission, said: “This charity was mismanaged by its trustees, including through their failure to manage the charity’s relationship with Peace TV channels following Ofcom’s findings. These and other repeated governance failures rendered the charity unviable, and the Commission’s intervention has secured its dissolution.

“As part of our intervention into this charity we determined that Dr Naik’s conduct makes him unfit to act as a trustee or hold senior management positions in any charity in England and Wales. Our order protects charities by prohibiting him from acting.”

Dr Zakir Naik is an Indian Islamic televangelist who focuses on comparative religion. He is the founder and president of the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) and the Peace TV Network, one of the largest religious satellite channel networks in the world.

Naik was forced to flee India in 2016 after the Hindu nationalist government levelled charges of terror financing, hate speech, inciting communal hatred, and money laundering against him.

On the basis of hate-speech laws, Naik’s Peace TV was banned from broadcasting in India, Bangladesh, Canada, Sri Lanka, and the United Kingdom.

He currently resides in Malaysia.

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