KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 15 — PAS President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang has vowed today that “more than one million” members of the Islamist party will not allow fugitive preacher Dr Zakir Naik from being harmed, amid calls to deport him over alleged inflammatory remarks.

He claimed that it is an obligation for Muslims to defend their religion and their preachers when threatened, labelling the issue as “a red traffic light” that every sane Muslim in the country should not cross.

“Trust us that this is not a mere personal decision of a prime minister, because more than one million PAS members will not allow for Dr Zakir Naik to be left alone, and trust us that Muslims from various parties and groups are together with us,” the Marang MP said in a statement.

“Do not oppose the red light, because the right of Muslim brotherhood comes before citizenship, and crosses the borders of countries and nations. That is the fact, not an incitement,” he added.

Hadi said PAS appreciated Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s decision to not send Dr Zakir back to India, but slammed fellow Muslims who he claimed are blind towards Quranic teachings.

“In comparison, there are many more mature non-Muslims who think that there is no need to interfere in the affairs of Islam because it would invite tension in a plural society that is still protected by Islam and its adherents,” he said.

In a separate statement, the PAS’ clergy wing, Dewan Ulama, also criticised Cabinet ministers who called for Dr Zakir’s deportation, calling the move “double standards” and a form of “racism and hatred” towards the controversial televangelist.

The wing claimed Dr Zakir’s statement has been taken out of context by sensationalist media outlets. This is despite the availability of the video of Dr Zakir’s alleged inflammatory speech.

The police said today India-born preacher Dr Zakir is under investigation under Section 504 of the Penal Code for intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace.

Yesterday, federal ministers from DAP and PKR said they urged the prime minister to send Dr Zakir back to India where he is wanted for money laundering and hate speech.

In May, the televangelist demanded written guarantees from India that he would not be detained prior to any conviction in order for him to stand trial there.

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 on a bakery in Dhaka, Bangladesh that ended with 29 dead.