Vocal lawyer Siti Kasim, who was part of a group which sued the former government for allegedly harbouring Zakir Naik, has come out strongly against Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s decision not to deport the controversial Indian preacher.
“Tun is talking nonsense,” Siti told FMT today.
She likened the decision to the prime minister’s defence of Australian mining company Lynas Corp, which was allowed to continue its operations in Pahang despite protests from activists and several ruling politicians.
“He is trying to defend Naik like he is defending Lynas. Both are toxic wastes,” she said.
Yesterday, Mahathir said Putrajaya has the right to refuse any demand from New Delhi to extradite Zakir, who is facing money laundering charges involving about RM115 million.
“Zakir Naik, in general, feels that he is not going to get a fair trial (in India),” he said.
Zakir said he was prepared to return to India to face charges but feared being jailed like many other Muslim suspects whom the courts found not guilty years later.
Siti and 18 individuals had filed a suit against the Malaysian government, accusing it of harbouring Zakir, whom they said was a threat to Malaysia.
The High Court threw out the suit in February last year.
Meanwhile, Hindu activist Arun Dorasamy said it was premature for Mahathir to announce that Malaysia would reject India’s extradition request.
“India has yet to reach a judgment but we are already jumping. I think it’s foolish and hypocrisy of the highest order from the highest office,” he said.
A Mumbai court is expected to decide on June 16 whether a non-bailable warrant of arrest should be issued against Zakir. India could seek Interpol’s help to have him detained and sent back for trial.
Arun, who is the adviser of the Hindu Agamam Ani Malaysia Association, said he would organise a protest outside the home ministry if Malaysia refuses to extradite Zakir.
“We will see after June 16 what happens and take it from there,” he said.
Meanwhile, Zakir has expressed confidence that the Malaysian government will stand by him and oppose any move by the Indian government to extradite him.
“I am positive that the Malaysian government will not be misled by the politically motivated allegations made by the anti-Islamic Indian government,” he told theSun.
Zakir noted that Malaysia had, in November 2013, awarded him the International Tokoh Maal Hijrah award, one of the country’s highest accolades.
“I was the fourth foreigner to ever receive it. You don’t expect the Malaysian government to award (it to) me without verifying my credentials,” he added.
Zakir pointed out that the Indian government had already failed twice to get Interpol to extradite him to India to face charges.
“I don’t see the stance changing.”
He said India failed to produce any evidence to back up the charges against him, thus compelling Interpol to withhold the issuing of a red notice.
“Now, from terror charges, the Indian government has decided to focus on money laundering charges in an attempt to get Interpol to issue a red notice.”
“Fortunately for me, Interpol is not driven by Indian politics and they need to be convinced that a crime has been committed before issuing a red notice,” he added.