Sorry for the misunderstanding, Zakir Naik says after questioning

Indian preacher Dr Zakir Naik at Bukit Aman on Aug 16.

PETALING JAYA: Fresh from a marathon round of questioning at Bukit Aman last night, controversial preacher Dr Zakir Naik has apologised for any misunderstandings over his statements, adding however that these have been taken out of context with “strange fabrications” added.

In a statement, Naik, who spent about 10 hours at the federal police headquarters, said he had always been a man of peace.

“It saddens me that this entire episode has caused many non-Muslims to think of me as a racist,” he said.

“It also worries me because the ones who are hurt have not heard my speeches but have based their impressions on out-of-context quotes. That is a cause of concern for me because it brings harm to the image of Islam and serves to drive people away from it.”

Naik was believed to have cast doubts on the loyalty of Malaysian Hindus, and had also questioned the position of the Chinese community in Malaysia in several public speeches in Kelantan.

He was questioned under Section 504 of the Penal Code for intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of peace after over 100 police reports were lodged against him.

He said although he had clarified himself to the police, he felt he owed an apology to everyone who had been hurt because of “this misunderstanding”.

“I do not want any of you to harbour ill feelings towards me,” he added.

“It was never my intention to upset any individual or community. It is against the basic tenets of Islam, and I would like to convey my heartfelt apologies for this misunderstanding.”

He also urged members of the public, especially the non-Muslims, to listen to his speeches in their entirety.

Naik has denied stoking racial sentiments, saying he is a victim of a vilification campaign by supporters of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The preacher, who has permanent resident status in Malaysia, has been wanted in India since 2016 for investigations into money laundering and inciting extremism through hate speech.

However, he has refused to return to India, saying he will not be accorded a fair trial under the BJP government.