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FACT CHECK: Did Mahesh Bhatt meet Islamic preacher Zakir Naik in Malaysia?

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The claim that Mahesh Bhatt met fugitive Islamic preacher Zakir Naik in Malaysia is false and the picture shared with this claim is also misleading as it is an old picture from 2010. 

Recently, an image of fugitive Islamic Preacher Zakir Nakir and Bollywood filmmaker Mahesh Bhat was widely circulated on social media with a claim that Mahesh Bhatt went to Malaysia to meet that jihadi criminal Zakir Naik.

A twitter user named NationFirst #Saffron shared the picture with a caption, "India's fugitive jihadi criminal Zakir Naik, who has taken refuge in the Islamic country of Malaysia. Mahesh Bhatt went to Malaysia to meet that jihadi criminal Zakir Naik."

At the time of writing this article, this tweet was reshared more than 250 times. 

The same picture was shared on Facebook by a user named Anand Gandhi and also on a page name 'We support Narendra Modi", with the same caption.

Zakir Naik presently lives in exile in Malaysia and is unwelcome in several countries for his views, particularly after his declared support for Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. One of the bombers in the Dhaka terror attack of July 2016 told Bangladeshi investigators that he was influenced by his preaching through his YouTube channel.

The truth behind the claim 

In our investigation, we found this claim to be false. With the help of reverse image search, we found some pictures of Zakir Naik and Mahesh Bhat which led us to the conclusion that the viral picture is at least 10 years old. 

The viral picture was taken in 2010 when Mahesh Bhat joined Zakir Naik along with his lawyer Majid Menon in a conference in protest against the UK government denying a visa to Naik. We found an image on Getty images, that was uploaded on 22 June 2010 with a caption, "Islamic preacher Dr. Zakir Naik, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt and advocate Majid Menon at Press Club to protest against the UK government denying a visa to Naik. (Photo by Vijayanand Gupta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)".

A comparison between this image and the one viral on social media makes it clear that both the images were captured on the same day, as all of them are wearing the same clothes in both the pictures. 

BBC also published a report on 22 June 2010 about the press conference condemning the ban on Naik. The report also mentions, "He has won support for his campaign against the exclusion order from Bollywood filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, who praised him for "locking horns with the might of the British empire".

Zakir Naik can be seen wearing the same shirt in the image used in the BBC report, and Mahesh Bhatt can also be spotted in the background. 

We also did not find any report of Mahesh Bhatt meeting Zakir Naik in Malaysia. 

In conclusion, the claim that Mahesh Bhatt met fugitive Islamic preacher Zakir Naik in Malaysia is false and the picture shared with this claim is also misleading as it is an old picture from 2010. 

Note: You can reach out to us at[at]gmail dot com if you find any issue with our articles.

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