Anwar says Naik is provocative but did not intend to insult

Anwar Ibrahim.

PETALING JAYA: Anwar Ibrahim has defended Dr Zakir Naik following the outcry sparked when the controversial preacher touched on the Indian and Chinese community in Malaysia.

The PKR president said that Zakir can be provocative and when it comes to dialogues on comparative religion he can come off as insulting.

“But I do not think he intentionally insulted or questioned the status of the Chinese and Indian communities,” Berita Harian quoted Anwar as saying at an event in Kuala Terengganu on Saturday.

He supported a decision by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad against deporting Naik (in response to an extradition request by India) despite the recent controversies revolving around the popular preacher.

He said the issue of Naik causing tension had been resolved after the preacher was barred by authorities from giving talks nationwide.

“Therefore, this should not be linked to calls to have him deported back to India. Thus I am for him to remain in Malaysia, especially when investigations are ongoing,” he was quoted as saying.

Naik, who has permanent resident status in Malaysia, has been charged with money laundering in his home country. However, the federal government has so far resisted India’s extradition request. Mahathir has questioned whether Naik would receive a fair trial.

Naik has apologised for remarks against the Malaysian Indian and Chinese communities but suggested that his remarks were often misquoted. He has also been summoned for questioning by police after more than 100 police reports were lodged against him.