The Controversial Zakir Naik PR Status

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The noise is growing over the revelation that Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik was granted permanent residency in Malaysia five years ago.

  • MIC’s S Subramaniam: Zakir could undermine country’s unity
  • PAS’ Nasrudin Hasan: Subramaniam in no position to interfere
  • MCA’s Ti Lian Ker: Zakir a source of much uneasiness among our multireligious and multiracial community
  • Perlis Mufti Asri Zainal Abidin: No proof to back accusation that Zakir was promoting extremist ideology
  • The facts: India issues second arrest warrant for Zakir, Hindraf leader P Waythamoorthy and activists filed suit against government for allowing Zakir to stay in Malaysia

In a recent statement, Dr S Subramaniam described Zakir as an “avoidable distraction” for Malaysia and warned that the controversial preacher could undermine the country’s unity.

Subramaniam cited Zakir’s evangelist TV channel being banned in several countries to make his case and said Malaysia has good religious scholars and did not need to turn to Zakir.

Malaysiakini reported that PAS information chief Nasrudin Hasan said the Health Minister is not in the position to question whether or not Zakir should be accorded PR status in Malaysia.

“I would like to advise MIC president Dr S Subramaniam not to simply release statements, especially on matters pertaining to Islam and Muslims in the country.

“Dr Zakir Naik is a scholar and preacher well known for his expertise in the field of comparative religion and is highly revered by Islamic scholars and Muslims the world over,” Nasrudin said.

“Associating Zakir Naik with terrorism and accusing him of igniting tension between religions are baseless accusations from Subramaniam,” added Nasrudin.

Jumping into the fray, MCA has called on the Home Ministry to look into why Zakir was granted permanent residency when he is so controversial.

The Star reported that MCA’s religious harmony bureau chairman Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker said he found it disconcerting that Dr Zakir is allowed to practise in the country even though he has been a source of much uneasiness among Malaysia’s multi-religious and multiracial community.

Zakir is wanted by Indian authorities in a case of money laundering and for his alleged role in a terror case. The Times of India reported Zakir failed to appear before a special court of India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) even after three summonses were issued.

The Indian government is also seeking an Interpol Red Notice against Zakir to curb his movements out of Saudi Arabia where he is now based.

In another report by The Star, the 51-year-old preacher is said to have left India last year, allegedly to evade arrest after some perpetrators of the Dhaka terror attack claimed they were inspired by him.

Zakir was in Malaysia several days ago to receive Perkasa’s most prestigious award.

Meanwhile, Perlis Mufti Datuk Dr Asri Zainal Abidin has called on the government not to bow to pressure from political parties who want Zakir deported back to India.

According to the New Straits Times, Asri stressed that the allegation against Zakir is baseless and there has been no proof to back the accusation that the preacher was promoting extremist ideology.

Asri was responding to calls by certain political parties who are questioning whether Malaysia is providing a shelter to Zakir while he was being sought in India for probes into his alleged link to terrorism acts.

He added that since certain quarters had been objecting to Zakir’s presence in the country, the government should also consider vetting the background of preachers from other religions.

While no names were mentioned, he posted a caustic poem on social media today.

“When those who idolise cows as God unite, and call for our preacher to be fettered, to hand him over to an evil government that worships the fire and practises the sati, burning widows, in that continent, a teaching that divides humans into castes,” Asri wrote in his ‘Friday morning poem’ in a Facebook post.

Asri had previously criticised Hindu rights group Hindraf over its opposition to Zakir.

Hindraf leader P Waythamoorthy and other activists have initiated a legal suit against the government for allowing Zakir to stay in the country.

Zakir’s speeches have often touched on Hinduism and Christianity, and have been criticised for stoking hatred among different communities.