The Indian-born TV preacher is thought to have inspired the 2016 Dhaka massacre. Malaysian police received more than a hundred complaints about racially motivated statements attributed to him. Naik has questioned the loyalty of Malaysia’s Hindu minority and claimed that ethnic Chinese people are guests in the country.
Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Malaysian police have banned all public activities by controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik (pictured) because of public outrage caused by his racist statements.
One of the best-known faces of Salafist Islam, Naik, 54, is very popular among Islamic radicals. He is thought to have inspired the 1 July 2016 massacre in Dhaka.
For the past three years, the Indian-born TV preacher has eluded Indian authorities, who accuse him of money laundering and hate speech.
Several countries in the West (like Canada and the United Kingdom) and Asia (Bangladesh and Singapore) have banned him. However, in 2017, Malaysian authorities granted him permanent residency.
Malaysia’s population of almost 32 million people is more than 60 per cent Muslim. The boundaries between ethnic-religious communities are clear and identity politics play an important role in social life.
Naik’ speech on 3 August at a conference in Kota Baru (Kelantan State) is the spark that caused the latest controversy.
In it, the preacher says that Chinese Malaysians are “old guests” and should leave first, adding that Malaysian Hindus are more loyal to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi than to Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and had 100 times more rights than Muslims in India
As a result of his remarks, 115 public complaints were and several people called for his expulsion. Some government ministers also spoke out against Naik.
Three days ago, Prime Minister Mahathir said that the Naik "can preach” but noted that the government would not tolerate his attempt to “participate in racial politics”, especially since he was not a Malaysian citizen.
The next day, the police grilled the preacher for 10 hours. This was followed by a public apology yesterday.
"It was never my intention to upset any individual or community,” Naik said in a statement. “It is against the basic tenets of Islam, and I would like to convey my heartfelt apologies for this misunderstanding".
Despite this, Malaysian authorities placed him under certain restrictions.