Once again, Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad made it clear that Malaysia will not stop at just catching and deporting controversial Indian preacher Zakir Naik.
In a decision that may frustrate some of his allies in the Pakatan Harapan government, the PM said Zakir is ‘popular’ among a large segment of the Malaysian population, hence the authorities must be careful in dealing with such sensitive issues.
Though Dr Mahathir said as a permanent resident of the country, Zakir should not touch the country’s politics, he said many people thought Naik was a great personality.
Zakir lectures in English, but most audiences do not (understand) unless he addresses them in Malay, “but many consider him a great religious personality and like him,” says Dr M.
“If we take action against him, we will be seen against the group. In Malaysia you need to be careful, ”he said in a BMF radio interview.
During the Najib Razak reign, Zakir Naik made some political comments that rocked the political scene in Malaysia.
It was in 2017
when he said during a dialogue organised by Malay rights pressure group Perkasa, “If you join hands with non-Muslims, you create a bigger problem.” “Then the non-Muslims will come to power.”
In a speech in Kota Bharu last month, Naik allegedly claimed Hindus in Malaysia were more loyal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in India than the Malaysian government. Zakir, a permanent resident in Malaysia was asked to leave the country.
He received a massive backlash for these comments and a police inquiry is ongoing to establish whether he stirred racial sentiments in the country.
However, the police is also interrogating political leaders and cabinet ministers over their reactions to Zakir’s comments.
The latter has also made police reports against the ministers and members of parties in Dr Mahathir’s government.
Dr Mahathir also denied that Indian PM Narendra Modi wanted him to deport Zakir to India.
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Instead, he told BFM Modi had also not informed him during a recent meeting in Russia that his country wanted Naik to be sent back for investigation by the Indian authorities.
“Not many countries want him,” he said.
“We are also trying to find a place for him to go. So far, not many countries are willing to accept it, ”he added.