PETALING JAYA: Controversial Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik, who is wanted in his home country of India, says he stands by “almost everything” he has said in the past.
Speaking during a recent interview, Naik said as a human being, he was prone to making mistakes.
“But naturally, (when) someone points out very clearly that I made a mistake, then as a human being, I admit I made a mistake.”
He said he didn’t regret “almost” all the things that he had said in the past.
Speaking on The Newsmakers, a current affairs programme on Turkish news channel TRT World, Naik said of the thousands of talks he had given, perhaps one or two might be “flawed” as most of the time, things he said had been taken out of context.
Asked if he regretted making his controversial comments on Osama bin Laden, he said when he was answering a question in Singapore on the matter in 1998, he had said that no one could accuse anyone without proof.
In a clip on YouTube, Naik says: “If bin Laden is fighting enemies of Islam, I am for him. If he is terrorising America, the terrorist, biggest terrorist, I am with him.”
But he said whenever anyone asked him if he felt Osama was a terrorist, his answer had always been: “I have not done the research, so I don’t claim he’s a saint or a terrorist.”
“And that’s the reason I said neither do I support bin Laden, neither am I against him,” he said, adding that this was his position on anyone he did not know much about.
Asked about the terror attack in Dhaka in July 2016 after suspects in the attack claimed they were inspired by Naik’s radical preaching, including his comments on Osama, he said: “Not a single statement of mine ever has inspired anyone to do any act of violence.”
“Anyone who’s fighting against the enemy of Islam, I’m for them, and I stand by it today also.”
He said that the first Bangladesh daily that reported that a suspect detained by police was a fan of his had later clarified it never said Naik had inspired the terrorist.
Meanwhile, Naik also said Dr Mahathir Mohamad had “unequivocally” supported him, after the prime minister suggested that Putrajaya had no choice but to allow him to reside in Malaysia.
“I believe I have the support of all truthful people in the world and, Alhamdulillah, I believe that Mahathir… he’s one of the few politicians to call a spade a spade,” Naik said.
Mahathir, in an interview with TRT World, had said Putrajaya did not want anybody who expressed extreme views about race relations and about other religions.
“So to that extent, we cannot have him but, on the other hand, it is difficult to send him anywhere else because many countries do not want to have him.”
Early last month, Naik was charged in absentia in India with money laundering.
Commenting on the Indian authorities’ decision to file money-laundering charges involving about RM115 million against him, Naik said it was “a big lie”, “nothing but fabrication” and “baseless allegations”.
He said he had not laundered a single rupee and that was why the appeals tribunal in India had said there was no evidence at all in the Indian security agency’s claims.