Anwar: Stop pandering to hardcore radicalism and reject religious bigotry

PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today urged Malaysians not entertain purely racial or religious bigotry. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today urged Malaysians not entertain purely racial or religious bigotry. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

SHAH ALAM, Aug 18 — PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today urged Malaysians not entertain purely racial or religious bigotry.

Anwar said this when responding to questions regarding controversial preacher Dr Zakir Naik’s speech in which he had allegedly said the Indians and Chinese in the country are ‘guests’ and do not belong in Malaysia.

Anwar was asked if there are concerns of a backlash from radical and hardcore Muslims and if Zakir should be deported to which he replied: “I don’t believe we should pander to the sentiments of either purely racial of religious bigotry.

“Islam stands very clear on the principle of justice and tolerance and I am guided by that,” said Anwar when approached by reporters at the National Professional Motivators Convention held in Shah Alam.

“This is a multi-religious and multiracial country with Islam as the religion of the federation. We should stick to that principle.”

Dr Zakir is being investigated by police under Section 504 of the Penal Code for intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace after 115 public complaints were lodged against his latest remarks during a lecture in Kota Baru, Kelantan last Saturday.

Hugely popular among conservative Muslim Malaysians, the Islamic preacher has drawn flak from the minority ethnic Indians and Chinese for his inflammatory remarks against them and their religious beliefs during the event.

Dr Zakir was reported by news portal Malaysiakini to have claimed Indian Malaysians were more loyal to the Narendra Modi and the government of India than Dr Mahathir’s administration.

The Mumbai-born was also reported to have called Chinese Malaysians “old guests” who should go back to their ancestral lands before he should be made to leave the country.

Two days ago, Zakir spent five hours at Bukit Aman with federal police recording his statements for the inflammatory speech he made in Kelantan.

Zakir has also lodged a police report against several ministers who have called him out and asked for him to be deported or his PR status revoked.

Anwar who has just returned from performing Haj last Thursday said he needs a few more days to decide what to do as he wants to meet other PKR leaders and listen to their feedback regarding this issue.

He also said there is no need for him to meet Dr Zakir.

“We (PKR members) will meet most likely meet this Wednesday.

“This is a very contentious issue and people are just enraged. I’ve been appealed for the need to have reasonable discourse and understanding before we come up with any views, hence I’ve asked for a few more days,” Anwar explained.

“I must give space for the political bureau to listen to their feedback and then come up with a statement after,” added the Port Dickson MP.