Dr Zakir Naik is no more than a prized chess piece in a game of politics — Ismail Hafiz

SEPTEMBER 12 — Dr Zakir Naik seems to have both Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and the Malaysian government wrapped around his pointed preacher fingers. Most recently, the Indian Islamic preacher’s allegations of defamation has launched a whole police investigation rather than a civil case which is far more appropriate for this kind of complaint.

In all honesty, what is appropriate is to deport the troublemaker who has done little but add strife and tension to an already hostile Malaysian environment. But you see, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir seems to see people as little more than political chess pieces. And if pandering around Dr Zakir Naik appeals the rural masses that support him, that is what he will do.

What strikes me is the total hypocrisy of Tun M’s actions when it comes to the treatment of fugitives. On one hand, we have this case of Arif Komis. Komis was the Turkish chemistry teacher who worked at a Turkish school affiliated with the civic Gulen movement in Malaysia. He was wanted by the Turkish government for his links to the movement which was accused of attempting a coup years ago.

Towards the end of August, Komis, his wife, and their four young daughters were reportedly detained in their apartment in Kuala Lumpur and sent back to Turkey. The Malaysian government did not halt the deportation carried out by Malaysian police despite Komis holding a UNHCR refugee card, despite the family consisting of young and vulnerable children, and despite international warnings over the risk of torture to those deported to Turkey.

The reality of prisoners being tortured and held without a fair trial in Turkey is very real. In 2017 a Turkish academic Ismet Ozcelik was sentenced to 10 years in prison upon his deportation from Malaysia to Turkey without even being allowed to present his final defence! The UN Human Rights Committee have actively pressured Turkish authorities to release Ozcelik and other prisoners treated in such a way.

In fact, the Stockholm Centre for Freedom (SCF), an advocacy group with a focus on Turkey, have documented many cases of harassment, abuse and torture of those deported from Malaysia to Turkey, warning that the Malaysian government would be held accountable in the future for enabling the crimes against humanity committed by Turkish President against those they deport.

On the other had... we have the one and only Dr Zakir Naik. A man accused of inciting terrorism and money laundering by Indian authorities, a man who has proven dangerous and reckless, and a man given seemingly limitless protection by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir.

Dr Mahathir has remained staunch in his decision to ignore Indian authorities’ pleas to extradite Dr Zakir Naik, despite the preacher causing trouble in Malaysia by insulting ethnic minorities and causing racial strife. His reasoning? He fears Dr Zakir Naik will not get a fair trial in India.

He will protect Dr Zakir Naik the troublemaker, give him endless chances and manipulate the system to provide him with a police investigation when he so desires, but he won’t bat an eyelash when a FAMILY is deported to a country that is recognised by the UN and international community for torturing prisoners

Let’s make one thing clear — worrying about the safety of those deported from Malaysia is not Dr Mahathir’s priority. Dr Mahathir has been harbouring Dr Zakir Naik as a political tool to gain favour from the Muslim Malays who hold the majority vote as he loses more and more support from other Malaysians who are continuously disappointed by the PH leadership during their first two years in power.

How else does one explain that Dr Mahathir’s refusal to listen to the cries of Indian and Chinese Malaysians who beg for the destructive Dr Zakir Naik to be sent away from our country yet is so blase about sending away a family of six to a torturous fate.

Dr Mahathir — we can see your hypocritic leadership methods, and our country, our people, and our children deserve oh so much more than a leader who treats lives like chess pieces in a game of politics.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.