On-the-run here, Dr Zakir Naik says will return home if not immediately arrested

Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik speaks during the ‘IJTEMA of 150 Malaysian Muslim Scholars with Dr Zakir Naik’ event in Kuala Lumpur, April, 2017. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik speaks during the ‘IJTEMA of 150 Malaysian Muslim Scholars with Dr Zakir Naik’ event in Kuala Lumpur, April, 2017. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 10 — Fugitive televangelist Dr Zakir Naik has conceded that he is willing to face justice back in India, but only if he is not arrested there until he is tried in court and convicted.

In an interview with Indian magazine The Week, the fiery orator who is now seeking refuge in Malaysia said he wanted the assurance from the Supreme Court of India after claiming that “more than 90 per cent” of Muslims facing terrorism charges were only let free after 10 to 15 years.

“If we see the history, more than 90 per cent Muslims who faced terror charges have been let free after 10 to 15 years.

“So if I look at an average, I will be behind bars for about 10 years, and my entire mission would get disrupted. Why should I be a fool?” he was quoted as saying.

He added that the Indian National Investigation Agency (NIA) can even question him in Malaysia if they wish to.

“If there is an assurance from the Supreme Court of India, that if Dr Zakir Naik comes, they will not arrest me till I am convicted, I will come,” he reportedly said.

In the interview, Dr Zakir asserted he has never taught people to resort to terrorism, challenging anyone to say that it was him who inspired them to kill.

In response to his money-laundering charges by India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED), Dr Zakir also claimed he only owns one bank account.

Mumbai-based The Times of India reported that the ED charged Dr Zakir with 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, had filed the charges under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in a special court in Mumbai.

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 allegedly “inspired and incited Muslim youths in India to commit unlawful activities and terrorist acts”.

“I have several companies and I am actually doing business. Is there a restriction in Indian law that a person cannot own companies? People have 50 companies and sometimes there are no transactions in some.

“Now all that money I sent into my account was Rs 49 crore in seven years. I told you my earning is more than a crore a month and I have got a lot of businesses in real estate and other ventures,” Dr Zakir reportedly claimed.

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.

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

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