MODERATE Islamic organisation G25 has spoken out against Malaysia’s granting of permanent residency (PR) status to Dr Zakir Naik, saying the controversial Muslim preacher’s religious rhetoric could cause “serious” harm to the country’s social fabric.
In an opinion piece published across numerous Malaysian news outlets including Malay Mail Online, Free Malaysia Today and The Malaysian Insight, G25 criticises the Malaysian Home Ministry’s decision to grant him a visa given “extreme statements” made by Zakir in his preaching.
“While we respect Zakir Naik’s democratic rights to express his views on Islam and compare it with other religions by quoting from various scriptures to illustrate such views, he has often created anger among Muslims and non-Muslims alike by his frequent mocking of other religious doctrines and practices,” the article says.
Zakir is a highly contentious Salafi “televangelist” wanted by authorities in India over allegations of propagating terrorism and money laundering.
India’s counter-terrorism National Investigation Agency (NIA) has issued numerous arrest warrants for the preacher, stating “there are reasonable grounds to believe that Dr Zakir Naik is evading arrest and he will not voluntarily appear before the court or the investigating agency.”
“Should Malaysia be called upon to cooperate in the fight against dangerous religious extremists, we strongly encourage our government to do so,” says the opinion piece.
Zakir has previously said that “all Muslims should be terrorists” and famously advocates the death penalty for apostates as well as calls for Muslim countries to reject non-Muslim houses of worship.
G25 says Malaysian authorities should not be seen as “championing an individual with such a reputation and we encourage them to proceed with caution.”
G25’s website says it “is committed to pursue a just, democratic, peaceful, tolerant, harmonious, moderate and progressive multi-racial, multicultural, multi religious Malaysia,” citing the Islamic tenets of Wassatiyah (moderation) and Maqasid Syariah (wellbeing of the people).
“Zakir Naik’s attitude on religion has no place in today’s world and can cause serious social harm in a multi-racial and secular country like Malaysia,” the group says.
Minority ethnic communities in Malaysia have also protested the decision to grant PR to Zakir, including the Indian group Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) who have demanded the preacher be deported to India.