Islamic preacher Zakir Naik has been prohibited from delivering public speeches in Malaysia with the aim of preserving “racial harmony”, the police told Malaysian website The Star Online on Tuesday. This came days after reports of the Malaysian police questioning Naik about his controversial remarks earlier this month about minority communities in the country, including the ethnic Chinese and Hindus.
“Yes, such an order has been given to all police contingents, and this was done in the interest of national security and to preserve racial harmony,” said Royal Malaysia Police’s corporate communications chief Datuk Asmawati Ahmad. Seven states in the country – Melaka, Johor, Selangor, Penang, Kedah, Perlis and Sarawak – have barred Naik from making public speeches.
At an event on August 3, the preacher had allegedly said the Chinese need to leave the country first as they were “old guests”. He had also said Hindus in Malaysia had “100 times more rights” than Muslims in India, and Hindus were more loyal to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi than Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad.
The Malaysian prime minister said it was “quite clear” that Naik wanted to engage in racial politics. “He is stirring up racial feelings,” NDTV quoted him as saying. “The police will have to investigate whether it is causing tension; obviously, it is.” Several ministers have called for Naik’s expulsion from the country.
On Monday, the police questioned Naik for over 10 hours on suspicion of committing an intentional insult aimed at provoking a breach of the peace. Naik denied the allegations and said a “vilification campaign” against him was in “full swing” and was being done with a “political motive”.
However, the preacher later apologised for his remarks, PTI reported. “It was never my intention to upset any individual or community,” Naik said. “It is against the basic tenets of Islam, and I would like to convey my heartfelt apologies for this misunderstanding.” However, Naik added that his detractors had made “strange fabrications” to his statements.
The preacher has been on the Indian government’s radar ever since allegations surfaced that he had inspired one of the terrorists who carried out an attack at a Dhaka restaurant in July 2016. The same year his Islamic Research Foundation was banned in India. Naik has repeatedly denied the accusations, and stayed put in Malaysia. In June, New Delhi formally made an extradition request to Kuala Lumpur.
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