KUALA LUMPUR, April 20 — Malaysia cannot permit controversial Indian preacher Dr Zakir Naik to use it as a haven from a terrorism investigation simply because of his religious credentials, said Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.
The MIC president and health minister called the Muslim preacher an “agent provocateur” who will become a divisive presence in multicultural and multi-religious Malaysia.
Dr Subramaniam yesterday said Malaysia did not have space for a person such as Dr Zakir, and today made his message more emphatic still, pointing out the preacher was persona non grata in countries such as Bangladesh, Canada and the United Kingdom.
“When a large Muslim country like Bangladesh has taken action against Zakir Naik, we in Malaysia should never allow a proven provocateur to remain in our midst advocating his nefarious and divisive form of Islamic worldview,” the minister said in a statement.
“Given the space, Zakir Naik would also infiltrate into our national space to disrupt national harmony, which could lead to undesirable actions of grave consequence to national peace and stability.”
The MIC president further said Malaysia has Islamic evangelists and preachers who are better suited to the country’s peculiarities than Dr Zakir.
Dr Zakir is a polarising personality in Malaysia, alternately held in esteem by some in the Muslim community and reviled by those of other faiths due to his provocative teachings.
The local Hindu community, in particular, remain aggrieved with the preacher owing to remarks he previously made regarding their faith.
The government this week confirmed Dr Zakir was made a permanent resident here five years ago. The revelation drew public criticism owing to ongoing investigations against him in India for promoting terrorism.
Nineteen activists, many of whom are from the Indian community, filed a lawsuit last month to compel the government to arrest and deport Dr Zakir.