The Centre’s decision to ban the Islamic Research Foundation was a communal one, the organisation’s head Zakir Naik said on Friday. On November 15, the IRF was banned for a period of five years under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for Naik’s “objectionable and subversive” speeches.

In a statement, Naik said the order was the “most unique ban to be applied in the history of India” as he was not questioned or given a chance to explain himself even once. “My participation in the investigation process would have exonerated me, which wasn’t acceptable to the government,” he said.

The televangelist also claimed that the move was meant to distract the country and the media from the “demonetisation fiasco”. “For the public that is starved for cash, for trade and basic amenities, one cannot expect much of resistance,” Naik said. “Flawless timing, really.”

Naik said that while the government had claimed his speeches had incited violence, he wanted to “re-emphasise” that he only advocated peace. He claimed that he was one of the “few persons” in the country who had openly spoken against “state-sponsored violence and terrorism”. Naik said the move to ban the IRF was “an attack on whom I represent, the Indian Muslims”. “It is an attack on peace, democracy and justice.”

On November 19, the National Investigation Agency filed a First Information Report against Naik under Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence and language) of the Indian Penal Code and the UAPA. The NIA and the Mumbai Police also conducted raids at 10 branches of the IRF in the city. The organisation has also been accused of sponsoring an alleged Islamic State group sympathiser. Naik is currently out of the country.