Malaysian police will question Islamic preacher Zakir Naik in connection with his recent controversial remarks about minority communities in the country, including the Chinese and Hindus, Reuters reported on Thursday. Naik, an Indian citizen, has a permanent residency permit in Malaysia.
The preacher has been on the Indian government’s radar ever since allegations came up that he had inspired one of the terrorists who carried out an attack at a Dhaka restaurant in July 2016. Naik has repeatedly denied the charges against him in India. In June this year, India formally made an extradition request to Malaysia.
On Wednesday, several Malaysian ministers had demanded Naik’s expulsion from the country after he made comments such as urging the Chinese to leave the country first as they were “old guests”, according to The Straits Times. Naik said Hindus in Malaysia had “100 times more rights” than Muslims in India, and that Hindus were more loyal to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi than Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad.
Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin in a statement said that police will question the religious preacher along with other individuals and groups for making “racially-tinged statements” and for spreading fake news which has affected the public sentiments, according to Reuters.
“I would like to remind all parties, including non-citizens, that enforcement agencies under my ministry will not think twice to take legal action against anyone who attempts to threaten public harmony and peace,” Muhyiddin said.
Naik refuted the allegations and said a “vilification campaign” against him was in “full swing” and was being done with a “political motive”, The Sun Daily reported. The Home Ministry is also reviewing his permanent residency in the country, according to The Straits Times.
Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation was banned by India in 2016. He was accused of encouraging and aiding its followers to “promote or attempt to promote feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious communities and groups”.