Pro-Naik campaign touches 100,000 signatures as it races to overtake rival petition

Malaysians have been divided over Dr Zakir Naik as the preacher is investigated by police.

PETALING JAYA: An online petition launched two days ago to show solidarity with embattled preacher Dr Zakir Naik has collected some 100,000 signatures and is likely to overtake a rival petition launched earlier which calls for his deportation.

The petition, launched by Kedah PAS Youth, among others, urges the government to provide refuge to the fugitive preacher, and not to revoke his Malaysian permanent resident status, amid a nationwide gag order by police following complaints that he was stoking racial sentiments.

“We judge a person based on facts and arguments, not based on prejudices and wild allegations,” said Kedah PAS Youth in a statement on popular online petition platform change.org.

Naik, who has been charged in absentia in India with money laundering, has been in and out of the Bukit Aman police headquarters over several remarks he made on non-Malays.

Among others, Naik responded to calls from non-Muslims to deport him by saying that they too were at one time “guests” in Malaysia. He has since apologised for the remarks, but maintained that his words were taken out of context.

A three-month-old petition against Naik, meanwhile, called for more pressure to send back Naik, saying he should fight the charges in Indian courts.

“After proving his innocence, we will welcome him back to continue his contributions to the propagation of Islamic understanding,” said the petition started by Colin Nathan.