Safe in Malaysia, Indian televangelist Zakir Naik charged with money laundering back home

Indian authorities have charged controversial Muslim televangelist Dr Zakir Naik with money laundering. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Indian authorities have charged controversial Muslim televangelist Dr Zakir Naik with money laundering. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, May 3 — Controversial Muslim televangelist Dr Zakir Naik has been charged by Indian authorities with money laundering, even as he has sought refuge and made public appearances in Malaysia.

Mumbai-based The Times of India reported that the country’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) charged Dr Zakir of laundering criminal money worth 193 crore Indian rupees (RM115 million) and allegedly bought illegal real estate assets across the world.

The ED, which is responsible for investigating financial crimes, filed the charges under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in a special court in Mumbai yesterday.

The agency accused the preacher of using funds from “dubious or suspicious sources” to purchase property and finance events where he made “inflammatory speeches and lectures” that have allegely “inspired and incited Muslim youths in India to commit unlawful activities and terrorist acts”.

“His thoughts created disharmony amongst various faiths and created hatred amongst people following different faiths,” the agency said.

The charge sheet was the second one filed by the ED in this case, but this was the first time Dr Zakir was directly linked.

Dr Zakir has been controversial because of his puritan brand of Islam — recommending the death penalty for homosexuals and ex-Muslims, according to media reports.

He has been banned in several countries such as United Kingdom, Canada and Bangladesh.

His Peace TV network has also been banned in Sri Lanka this week following the deadly Easter bombings last month.

However, Putrajaya has said it does not find anything wrong with Dr Zakir’s speech, and the fiery preacher may stay in Malaysia as long as he does not break any laws.

Minister in charge of Islamic affairs Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa had even hosted Dr Zakir at his office in March, calling the fugitive man “inspirational” for his evangelism.

Last month, the police announced it has arrested and is investigating Muslim preacher Muhammad Zamri Vinoth Kalimuthu, a purported follower of Dr Zakir, for allegedly insulting Hinduism in his lecture.

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