The leader of Malaysia’s ruling party said on Wednesday that the country will act against religious preacher Zakir Naik if there is “incontrovertible evidence” that his sermons incited extremists, The Hindu reported. However, Anwar Ibrahim, the chief of the Parti Keadilan Rakyat party, told the daily that India had provided no formal evidence so far.
“The case has not been raised with me personally,” Ibrahim, who is currently in India on a five-day visit, told the newspaper. “We do not subscribe to all allegations unless we are furnished with the details. We would need some evidence. Malaysia has been tough on terrorism and if we are given incontrovertible evidence that someone has been involved we would not tolerate it.”
Naik, who has a permanent residency permit in Malaysia, has been on the Indian government’s radar ever since allegations arose that he had inspired one of the terrorists behind the Dhaka restaurant attack on July 1, 2016. He was also accused of meeting two brothers from Kerala who were among those who went missing in West Asia and were feared to have joined the Islamic State group. On November 15, 2016, the Centre banned Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation with immediate effect.
The National Investigation Agency has registered a case against Naik under anti-terror laws. In January 2018, the agency sent a notice to the former Malaysian government, and a letter to the new government which came to power in May. But new Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad met Naik in July, and said he will not be extradited to India if he does not create problems in Malaysia.
Ibrahim said he hoped India would take a “more positive leadership role” in addressing the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar and refugees in Bangladesh, but had been disappointed so far. Ibrahim added that Mahathir’s government wants to accelerate trade and investment between Malaysia and India because bilateral ties between the two countries are “well below potential”.
On Wednesday, Ibrahim met Congress President Rahul Gandhi and discussed elections in Malaysia, as well as the upcoming 2019 General Elections in India, The Hindu reported. On Thursday, he will deliver the valedictory address at the Raisina Dialogue, the valedictory address at the Ministry of External Affairs conclave in New Delhi.