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Is Zakir Naik now persona non grata?

November 1, 2017

All the good work done in Malaysia to promote goodwill and understanding among different religious and ethnic communities have been seriously jeopardised by Naik's activities.



By P Ramasamy

The Malaysian government is aware that the continued presence of the controversial Muslim preacher from Mumbai, Zakir Naik, might pose a security problem.

This is the reason why Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi, in his reply to a question in Parliament (raised by Teresa Kok, DAP-Seputeh), said that the activities of Naik are being seriously monitored by the government.

He also said the government of India had not made any official request for Naik’s extradition to the country.

Even though Naik was given permanent resident (PR) status on the basis of procedures laid out by the Immigration Department, his activities are being seriously watched by law enforcement agencies in Malaysia.

The government of India has levelled serious allegations against Naik for money laundering and terrorist-related activities.

It is seriously considering asking the Malaysian government for the extradition of Naik to face the charges in India.

A few years ago, Naik was the “favourite” of the Malaysian government.

He was allowed to give public lectures around the country. While he extolled the virtues of Islam, he went overboard in disparaging the faiths of non-Muslims.

For a while, Naik was the favourite of official circles in the country. Zahid even remarked earlier that Naik was a “wise man”.

However, things are different now.

The government is slowly but surely distancing itself from Naik. It has become difficult for the government to ignore the serious allegations against Naik.

The government of India wants him to be extradited to face trial for charges of money laundering and encouraging terrorist activities.

It is clear that Naik is no more the favourite preacher in Malaysia. His wrongdoings might have finally caught up with him.

Despite all the bravado in his public lectures, he admitted that if he was extradited to India, he might be tortured to death.

He says that he is innocent of the charges. If so, he should present himself in the courts in India to defend himself.

Surely, the courts in India are not mere instruments of the executive, unlike some other countries. He can expect a fair trial.

If he had been a wise man, he would have assumed responsibility for his actions. But like most extremists, he got carried away, to the extent of creating a serious rift among religious communities in both India and Malaysia.

All the good work done in Malaysia to promote goodwill and understanding among the different religious and ethnic communities was seriously jeopardised by the activities of Naik.

P Ramasamy is Penang deputy chief minister II and DAP deputy secretary-general.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

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