Deporting Zakir Naik is not an option says Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad who says the controversial preacher fears he will get a fair trail in India.
Malaysia has an extradition treaty with India which allows the country to restrain from extraditing a fugitive who risk punishment or being prosecuted because of their race, religion or political opinion.
“Zakir (in general) feels he will not get a fair trial [in India],” Mahathir told local media.
With this statement, as long as Dr Mahathir is the Prime Minister of Malaysia there will be no extradition of Zakir to India.
South China Morning Post yesterday says the Mahathir administration is struggling to retain its Muslim-Malay vote bank so deporting Zakir is not an option.
The paper says Pakatan Harapan risks losing grounds and popularity if it sent Zakir to India.
Dr Mahathir yesterday reportedly said, in response to reports of an impending Interpol arrest warrant being issued for the 53-year-old who holds the Malaysian Permanent Resident status, Malaysia has ‘the right’ to decide if it will comply with any request by India to extradite the Islamic televangelist.
India is putting pressure on Malaysia to send the preacher back to New Delhi where the authorities is seeking him for questioning on charges of money-laundering and spreading extremism.
But Dr Mahathir’s decision to defend Zakir Naik by linking his case to that of Malaysian fugitive Sirul Azhar Umar convinced for the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu who fled to Australia is criticised by a Pakatan MP.
The Star reported that a Democratic Action Party MP dismissed the comparison saying it is “misconceived”. The MP Ramkarpal Singh says there were differences in the two cases.
He says Australia refused to deport Suril fearing he will face the death penalty in Malaysia while India accuses Zakir of money laundering crimes and promoting extremism, but Dr Mahathir does not agree there is a differentiation.
Malaysia’s representative to the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Ahmad Azam Ab Rahman told The Independent the accusations of terror laid against Zakir Naik should stop and that Malaysia should resist any attempts to deport the preacher.
Azam says, “We have been following Zakir Naik’s lectures for quite a while and in no way he is preaching terrorism. His approach in preaching Islam using the text of other religions in comparative religion approach should be debated using the same approach by other religious scholars or priests.
“By shutting Dr Naik’s preaching using terrorism label and other concocted accusations, puts India’s claim as the largest democracy in the world is a sham. Malaysia should resist any attempt to extradite Dr Naik purely on those politically motivated charges.”