Malaysia’s Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman hosted a dinner for controversial Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik who was until last week facing deportation back to India.
In an Instagram post, the youngest minister in Malaysia says ‘it was time to move on’ adding that “No one in this world is free from making mistakes. Zakir has apologised.”
The move to bury the hatchet comes after Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he is not deporting or getting Zakir’s permanent residence status withdrawn.
Zakir seems to have a strong following in Malaysia, with the local social networks buzzing in his favour based on comments on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Much of the locals commenting says Zakir should not be deported, he should be given another chance while some even called for the deportation of Democratic Action Party stalwart Lim Kim Siang to China.
Zakir caused a controversy among the local Chinese and Indian communities in his speech in the state of Kelantan.
Speaking to what Zakir says is an audience of 100,000 at a stadium in the Islamist-run state, the Indian citizen who is wanted by his country said Chinese are guests in Malaysia. He also said Hindus in the country are more loyal to India and loves Indian PM Narendra Modi more than Dr Mahathir.
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Tidak ada seorang pun dalam dunia ini yang bebas dari melakukan kesilapan. Dr Zakir Naik sudah minta maaf. Saya sendiri banyak kali lakukan kesilapan dan kena berlapang dada bila ditegur. . Tidak perlu nak mendabik dada & mengeruhkan keadaan lagi. Tidak perlu nak menghina & mencaci. Let’s move on. The country needs healing. . Malaysia merupakan negara yang berbilang bangsa & agama. We believe in moderation over extremism. Kesatuan kita, adalah kekuatan kita. Setiap bangsa, ada sumbangannya yang tersendiri. Mereka merupakan rakyat Malaysia, sama seperti saya. Mari kita terus mengikat masa depan kita bersama. . Unity in diversity. Stronger, together, forever.
These sparked angry calls for his deportation and for his permanent residence status to be revoked.
Nevertheless, the Minister had had dinner last night at his house in Petaling Jaya, just ten days after the minister called for Zakir to be deported over his remarks about Chinese Malaysians.
Saddiq was criticised by some Malay Muslim social media users and took the heat from supporters and Bersatu party members too.
In the Instagram post, Saddiq, who is also Bersatu Youth chief, says, “I myself have made many mistakes and am open-hearted when I am reprimanded.”
“There’s no need to beat on our chests and muddy the waters anymore. There’s no need to insult and disparage. Let’s move on, the country needs healing.”
The preacher has claimed that his remarks were taken out of context and has since apologised.
“Malaysia is a country that is racially and religiously diverse. We believe in moderation over extremism.
“Unity in diversity. Stronger, together, forever,” says the minister.