KUALA LUMPUR, May 20 — Controversial Indian Muslim evangelist Dr Zakir Naik has been granted Saudi Arabian citizenship, according to a press monitoring organisation in the Middle East.
Claiming information from unnamed Arab sources, the Middle East Monitor said in an article published yesterday that the Saudi citizenship was granted on the intervention of its monarch, King Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud, purportedly to protect Dr Zakir from arrest by Interpol following a Red Notice request from Indian authorities.
An Interpol Red Notice requests member nations to locate and provisionally arrest an individual pending extradition.
It is unknown if Dr Zakir, who was recently revealed to have been awarded permanent residency by the Malaysian government five years ago, had applied or accepted the Saudi citizenship.
Like Malaysia, India does not recognise dual citizenships.
The 51-year-old medical doctor by training has been visiting Malaysia and Saudi Arabia frequently after leaving India where he is wanted for money laundering and terrorism investigations.
The Middle East Monitor alleged that the Indian passport office had cancelled Dr Zakir’s passport in an attempt to force him to return home after a special Mumbai court issued a warrant for his arrest last month.
Dr Zakir was conferred honorary membership in Malay rights organisation Perkasa on April 16.
He is also a central figure in a March 1 civil lawsuit filed by 19 Malaysian human rights activists against the federal government, which it accused of failing to protect the country from Dr Zakir whom they claim to be a security threat.