KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 ― Perlis Mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin has come to the defence of Dr Zakir Naik, rejecting allegations that the controversial Muslim cleric preaches terrorism.
Mohd Asri, who is the latest back Dr Zakir here, said he had not found the Mumbai-based preacher to have advocated terrorism in his past speeches.
“There are matters I personally agree with, and others that I disagree with regarding DZN's approach. But to associate him as a preacher who encourages terrorism is very much untrue.
“I have heard many of his speeches, I do not find that it is so,” he wrote in a Facebook post today, referring to Dr Zakir by his initials.
Dr Zakir's Malaysian supporters have said that he should not be blamed for the actions of the militants behind the Dhaka terror attack as the Muslim preacher’s remarks on terrorism were allegedly taken out of context.
Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria said the Mumbai-based televangelist has previously denied expressing support for terrorism and accused Rohan Imtiaz ― one of the Dhaka militants who reportedly posted on Facebook a quote he attributed to Dr Zakir saying that “every Muslim should be a terrorist” ― of misunderstanding the preacher.
Others who defended Dr Zakir include PAS deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, Multiracial Reverted Muslims founder Firdaus Wong Wai Hung and Malay right-wing group Perkasa.
Authorities in India and Bangladesh are reportedly investigating Dr Zakir after news reports emerged that Rohan and Nibras Islam, another of the five Dhaka gunmen, were inspired by the Salafist preacher.
Malaysia’s Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar told Malay Mail Online last night that he will review Dr Zakir’s sermons and speeches made in India and Bangladesh before deciding whether or not police action is required.
The head of the Hyderabad chapter of global terror group Islamic State, Mohammad Ibrahim Yazdani, has attributed Dr Zakir’s teachings as the basis for his venture into militancy.
Dr Zakir was welcomed by the Malaysian government in April this year and held a week-long series of sermons and has been praised as a “very wise man”, received tributes from the government including the prestigious “Tokoh Maal Hijrah” award in 2013 and was reportedly gifted three islands in Lake Kenyir from the Terengganu government.