PETALING JAYA: A member of moderate Muslim group G25 has urged Putrajaya to stop being “more Umno than Umno” by using race and religion to garner Malay support, following a meeting between minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa and fugitive Indian preacher Zakir Naik.
G25 spokesman Noor Farida Ariffin also called on the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to act against those who employ hate speech or use race and religion to divide the nation.
She said it was shocking to see Mujahid, who has been preaching moderate Islam, meeting Naik who has been known to criticise other religions.
“For someone who is promoting moderate Islam, Mujahid should not have anything to do with extremist Muslims like Zakir Naik,” she said.
“It was shocking to see Mujahid with Naik. We should send him packing back to India.”
Noor Farida said Naik had been making insulting remarks about other religions with no action taken against him. He had also distorted Islam for his own purposes, she said, referring to his call for Muslims to vote for Muslim candidates just before the May 9 polls last year.
“Obviously, he thought, like everyone else, that the Barisan Nasional (BN) government would win the election and remain in power,” she said, questioning his principles.
On his Facebook page, Mujahid said Naik’s efforts to preach Islam had taken him to every corner of the world and that this served as an “inspiration” to others to keep on preaching.
But Noor Farida said PH should not “pander to Malay sentiments”.
“Putrajaya should take stern action by getting the police and the attorney-general to charge those who criticise race and religion,” she added.
Lawyers for Liberty executive director Latheefa Koya also criticised Mujahid for meeting Naik, saying it was to garner Malay support.
She said on Facebook that if Naik is not monitored, he would cause a divide among the different races.
Comparing Naik to another Indian preacher in South Africa named Ahmad Deedat, she said Deedat was well-versed in the Bible and had impressed Christians with his knowledge.
“Zakir Naik is a student of Ahmad Deedat. His style is the same as Deedat’s but he has taken it to a different level by challenging Christianity and other religions.”
Naik, 53, is facing charges of money laundering and hate speech in India, where authorities last year said he had been “promoting enmity and hatred between different religious groups in India through public speeches and lectures”.
He was given permanent residency status by the previous BN government.