KUALA LUMPUR, July 29 — The federal government’s refusal to extradite Muslim preacher Dr Zakir Naik to India is based on concerns about justice and fairness, Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusof Rawa said.
Defending Putrajaya and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s stand on the issue, the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department explained that India must convince Malaysia about the validity of its request and provide safeguards to Dr Zakir.
“Number one, if there is to be an extradition, there must be facts and proof. Number two, extraditions must be based on justice and he or she must be treated justly. It must be guaranteed that he is given a fair trial.
“And this is the prime minister’s concern,” he said in an interview with the New Straits Times.
After India applied for Malaysia to extradite Dr Zakir in order for him to stand trial on money-laundering charges there, PM Dr Mahathir said Putrajaya was entitled to ignore the request if the preacher is not guaranteed to receive a fair hearing.
Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin also confirmed that Dr Zakir was not listed on the International Police Organization’s Red Corner Notice of wanted criminals or fugitives.
In the NST interview, Mujahid also sought to allay concerns that Malaysia’s refusal to extradite Dr Zakir — whom India has accused of inspiring terrorism — would undermine the country’s own efforts to combat local and regional extremism.
He reiterated that the central issue in Dr Zakir’s case was about fairness and justice, and did not affect Malaysia’s solidarity with the world community in fighting terrorism and extremism.
“Anyone can be accused of anything, but it is also our right to define the situation and not just accept (accusations) blindly.
“There are things to be considered. We also want others to respect the law,” he said.
Dr Zakir has been evading Indian authorities since 2016, when files were opened against him for allegedly making hate speeches and laundering money after five militants launched an attack at a bakery in Dhaka, Bangladesh that ended with 29 dead.
Indian authorities filed money-laundering charges against him earlier this year and a Mumbai court granted the country’s Enforcement Directorate a warrant to arrest Dr Zakir in order for him to stand trial there.
Now a Saudi citizen and Malaysian permanent resident, Dr Zakir has refused to return to India unless he is given a formal guarantee that he will not be detained prior to any conviction.