Controversial Indian Islamic preacher Zakir Naik apologised on Tuesday, August 20 for making contentious racist remarks in Malaysia, a day after he was interrogated by police.
Naik, in his speech, said: “Hindus in Malaysia had 100 times more rights than the Muslim minority in India, and that Malaysian Chinese were guests of the country.”
Racist Remarks Draw Flak
Naik, who faces charges of money laundering and hate speech in India, came under a fresh controversy for his comments over Malaysia’s ethnic and religious minorities. However, he claims to be a man of peace because that’s what the Quran propagates.
Insisting that he is not a racist, Naik apologised for his comments and said that his remarks were taken out of context and strange fabrications were added to them.
“It was never my intention to upset any individual or community. It is against the basic tenets of Islam, and I would like to convey my heartfelt apologies for this misunderstanding,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.
“It saddens me that this entire episode had caused many non-Muslims to think of me as a racist. It also worries me because the ones who are hurt had not heard my speeches but had based their impressions on out-of-context and added “strange fabrications into them,” Naik said in a statement.
Ban On Naik’s Public Speech
Several Malaysian ministers demanded his expulsion from the country after his controversial remarks, and at least seven states have barred him from public speaking.
“Mr Naik was free to preach about Islam but should not speak about Malaysia’s racial politics, state media reported,” Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Sunday, August 18. A monarchy and a multi-ethnic country, Malaysia has 62% population consisting of Muslims and the country is very sensitive about race and religion.
Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Director Huzir Mohamed said that Naik was being charged under Section 504 of the Penal Code for the intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace.
Police spokesperson Asmawati Ahmad informed that all public activities involving Naik have been banned to “avoid any controversy and hostility, and the potential to cause a tense atmosphere” in the country.
Allegations In Past
He gained disrepute after allegations surfaced of his involvement in a terror attack in Dhaka, Bangladesh, that claimed the lives of 20 people. Zakir Abdul Karim Naik has not returned to India since then and denied having any role in the incident.
The Indian government put his Peace TV channel off air, domestically after the Dhaka attack, and banned his Islamic Research Foundation, a probe of which resulted in charges of financial wrongdoings as well.
In November 2016, The Union Cabinet declared an NGO run by controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik as an “unlawful association” which disturbed social and communal harmony and placed it under a ban for five years with immediate effect.
India has made several requests to Malaysia for the extradition of Zakir Naik but the country has refused to entertain the plea. Currently, India is negotiating with the Interpol to get a Red Corner Notice (RCN) issued against Zakir Naik.
Naik holds permanent residency in Malaysia after countries like Britain and Canada denied him visas.
He is unwelcome in several countries after he supported Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden in one of his statements.
“If bin Laden is fighting the enemies of Islam, I am for him. If he is terrorising America, the biggest terrorist, I am with him. Every Muslim should be a terrorist,” Zakir Naik was quoted, which he claimed to be misquoted.
He demanded the death penalty for homosexuality and conversion of a Muslim from Islam to any other religion.
He said the men have “right” to beat their wives “gently”. Zakir Naik also defended the Islamic State for keeping sex slaves.
He also supported the Islamic State over the destruction of non-Muslim religious places. “How can we allow this when their religion is wrong and when their worshipping is wrong,” Zakir Naik was quoted saying.