No deportation of Zakir Naik for now: Mahathir Mohamad

Bangla Tribune Desk
Published : 19:05, Aug 22, 2019 | Updated : 19:09, Aug 22, 2019

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said controversial Indian Islamic preacher Zakir Naik will not be deported to India, for now, reports local media.
"As of now, there is no change (on my stand)," he reaffirmed when asked whether he still stood by his decision of not sending Naik back to his home country India, reports The New Straits Times.
The Malaysian PM made the remarks during a media briefing in Putrajaya on Thursday (Aug 22), according to the daily.
This is the second time Mahathir stood by his decision to not deport Naik to India where the televangelist faces charges of money laundering and hate speech.
Earlier on Aug 13, Malaysian state news agency Bernama quoted Mahathir as saying that Naik cannot be sent back to India due to fears for his safety.
"If any (other) country wants to have him, they are welcome," Mahathir said.
Naik, who has lived in Malaysia for about three years and holds a permanent residency, has come under fire for his comments that Hindus in the Southeast Asian country had "100 times more rights" than the Muslim minority in India, according to a Reuters report.
Race and religion are sensitive issues in Malaysia, where Muslims make up about 60 percent of its 32 million people. The rest are mostly ethnic Chinese and Indians, most of whom are Hindus.
On Aug 15, Malaysian police received as many as 115 reports against Naik.
A day later, Naik had his statement recorded for the first time on Aug 16 for five hours.
On Aug 18, the Malaysian PM, however, said Naik overstepped boundaries when he touched on racial politics and stirred racial tension in the country,
“We don't want to stop him from that. But it is quite clear he wants to participate in racial politics in Malaysia. Now, he is stirring up racial feelings. That is bad," The Star Online quoted the 94-year-old politician.
Mahathir said that his government would against Naik in line law.
On Aug 19, Malaysian police grilled Naik for the second time, in a session that lasted for 10 hours.
Two days later, Malaysia banned Naik from speaking on all platforms including in social media until a police investigation against him completed.
Naik, however, apologised for his remarks but insisted that he was not a racist.
"It was never my intention to upset any individual or community," he previously said in a statement.
"It is against the basic tenets of Islam, and I would like to convey my heartfelt apologies for this misunderstanding," Naik said.
On Thursday, Naik met the police once again over a report that he filed on Aug 16 against five Malaysian ministers, reports The Star Online.
In that report, Zakir claimed that Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran, former ambassador Dennis Ignatius, Penang Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy, Bagan Dalam assemblyman Satees Muniandy and Klang MP Charles Santiago had taken his comments during a speech in Kota Baru, Kelantan out of context.
The police report was to enable the launch of investigations against the five for allegedly defaming him and instigating racial disharmony, according the English daily.