DECEMBER 31 — It is a name we have all heard over and over again from the beginning of 2019, until the very end. Countless news articles, debates, and conversations have centered around the Indian preacher, he even earned the number 8 spot in the top 24 news items selected by Malaysiakini based on an extensive survey.
Zakir Naik, who found solace under the protection of Prime Minister Mahathir, has been a thorn in the side of Malaysians that gets more painful by the day.
From the beginning, there were objections to the Indian fugitive being granted permanent residency. The controversial preacher, wanted by India’s counterterrorism agency, is no innocent lamb. He has been accused of serious crimes, including inspiring a gunman attack in Bangladesh with his radical lectures and Islamic channel, as well as using his non-profit Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) as a front for money laundering.
Accusations revolving around terrorism and money laundering are no laughing matter and granting such a problematic and influential man protection was always questionable.
Rather than accept his haven in Malaysia with immense gratitude and shutting up, Naik has spent the last year doing little but biting the hand that fed him.
Naik has been actively stoking racial tension and disunity. He has insulted both Chinese and Indian Malaysians, calling them “guests” and questioning the loyalty of Indian Malaysians to their leaders.
These hurtful and naïve comments alone should have been the last straw, and Mahathir should have waved goodbye to the man who has done nothing to earn his place here. Rather, he was barred by the police for making public speeches and sent off with a slap on the wrists.
This has not stopped him from attending important events alongside Mahathir, most recently the Kuala Lumpur Summit which saw Muslim leaders from all over the world uniting.
But this is not enough for someone who so craves power and attention. Naik has had the nerve to sue Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy not once, but twice for defamation! As if his reputation was a spotless gem prior to Ramasamy’s statements.
Tell me, what credibility or right does a wanted money-laundering, terror-inciting suspect have to sue a leader of the country granting him refuge?
Even when Mahathir is not actively doing harm, he is a thorn in our side. Outrage has spread through Malaysia following the publicizing of an exam question which centered around Zakir Naik. The question, which called Naik an “icon of the Islamic world” who “is able to reason and to answer every question that is asked to him”, was so outrageously biased that it was almost laughable.
And don’t even get me started on an old video of his which is making its rounds wherein the ‘iconic’ preacher warns Muslims against wishing their friends Merry Christmas, which inspired an article titled “Wishing Christians ‘Merry Christmas’ is a sin, worse than murder – Islamic cleric, Zakir Naik”.
Time and time again, this man has stirred up anger, hate, and the kind of tension that is the last thing we need in Malaysia. The country is going through a hard period as it is, we do not need an extra problem.
We can only hope that one of the government’s 2020 resolutions will be to send Naik back where he came from.
*This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.