News Brief

Amidst An Impasse On Zakir Naik’s Extradition, Even Malaysian Citizens Are Concerned With His Divisive Speeches

Zakir Naik (L) with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. 
Snapshot
  • Malaysian citizens are worried that Zakir Naik has already left Malaysians of Chinese and Indian origins alienated. His “racially-charged remark” at Kota Bharu on 9 August this year hurt Malaysian Chinese and Indians.

Two weeks ago, the Indian Minister of State for Home Affairs, G Kishen Reddy, told at a conference in Melbourne, Australia, that controversial preacher and Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) founder Zakir Naik had spent the donations he had received on spreading radial thoughts.

The minister said in his presentation at the “No Money For Terror” conference that Naik had collected crores of rupees worldwide through charities and donations.

Naik, who is now living in Malaysia since 2016, is facing charges of provoking communal disharmony and indulging in unlawful activities that incited terror in India. He is also under investigation in India and Bangladesh for the terror attack at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka in July 2016.

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The minister referred to Naik to tell his audience how non-profit organisations were being utilised by terrorist outfits to spread radicalism and fundamentalism.

During an anti-terror conference on 14 October this year, a National Investigation Agency (NIA) official said that a majority of the 130-odd people arrested by security agencies in India for links with ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) were inspired by the speeches of Zakir Naik.

Minister Kishen Reddy’s statement is troubling citizens in Malaysia, particularly those of Chinese and Indian origins.

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A couple of days before the Indian minister made his presentation in Melbourne, the Malaysian Foreign Affairs Minister Saifuddin Abdullah announced that the Mahathir Mohammed government in Kuala Lumpur will inform New Delhi of its decision not to repatriate Zakir Naik to India.

Abdullah said the Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had raised the issue of India’s official request to Malaysia on deporting Zakir Naik, who has been given permanent resident status by Kuala Lumpur. The issue was discussed on the sidelines of the 35th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok on 4 November.

Abdullah also referred to a statement by Mahathir Mohammed on why Malaysia is unable to deport Zakir Naik from the country. Dwelling on the statement, the Malaysian Insight wondered why no other country wants to give refuge to Zakir Naik, as stated by Mahathir Mohammed.

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“Perhaps, these countries, including Muslim nations, believe like Malaysians that he is a divisive figure,” the journal quipped, adding that so far Kuala Lumpur has not given a reason justifying why Zakir Naik is not being deported.

Malaysian citizens are worried that Zakir Naik has already left Malaysians of Chinese and Indian origins alienated. His “racially-charged remark” at Kota Bharu on 9 August this year hurt Malaysian Chinese and Indians.

Zakir Naik said Muslim nations were not speaking against the persecution of Muslims and Islamophobia. In particular, he pointed out at the Chinese treatment of Uighurs and said the Narendra Modi government in India had created Islamophobia.

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As per a report in Malaysia Kini, Naik, in a recent speech, had alleged that Hindus in Malaysia are more loyal to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi than his Malaysian compatriot Mahathir Mohamad.

He also reportedly claimed that Hindus in Malaysia enjoyed 100 per cent more rights than Muslims do in India. His speech led to a vociferous demand to expel him from Malaysia, while many provinces there barred him from addressing the public. He was also questioned for 10 hours in connection with his speech.

Of the 32 million people who live in Malaysia, 61.5 per cent are Muslims, while Buddhists make up nearly 20 per cent of the population. Christians comprise 9.2 per cent, while Hindus make up 6.5 per cent. Other religions, including Taoism and Confucianism, make up 2.5 per cent.

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There are nearly three million Indian and Sri Lankans of Tamil origin living in Malaysia, who follow either Islam, Christianity, Buddhism or Hinduism.

Malaysian minorities, especially the Tamil Hindus, already feel they are being discriminated against and the presence of people such as Zakir Naik will only make life difficult for them in that country.

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