Zakir Naik in soup over racial speeches in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Aug 19 (IANS) Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, who was granted permanent residency in Malaysia after he fled India on being charged with giving inflammatory speeches, has been barred from holding religious talks in several Malaysian states.

Naik, who has been living in Malaysia for the last three years, is in the limelight for his remarks against non-Muslim minorities, especially the Chinese and Hindus in Malaysia.

Seven states - Melaka, Johor, Selangor, Penang, Kedah, Perlis and Sarawak - have decided to bar the controversial preacher from speaking in public.

Malaysia's former police chief Rahim Noor has urged the government to rescind his Permanent Resident (PR) status and return him to India.

"Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had commented that the government will consider rescinding his PR status if it is proven that he has committed criminal offences," Noor was quoted as saying.

In his racial comments, Naik had said that Hindus in Malaysia get "100 times more rights" than the Muslim minority gets in India, and yet they support the "Prime Minister of India and not the Prime Minister of Malaysia".

Despite facing calls for deportation by multiple parties, Naik called on the Malaysian Chinese to "go back" first as they were the "old guests" of the country.

"Later on, more people came and Malaysia became fully Muslim. Then you have the Chinese coming, the Indian coming, the British coming. They are our new guests.

"People call me a guest. So I said, before me, the Chinese were the guests. They aren't born here. If you want the new guest to go first, (then) ask the old guests to go back.

"The Chinese weren't born here, most of them. Maybe the new generation, yes.

"If you want the guest to go back and those guest which (sic) are bringing peace in the community, they are benefit (sic) for the family," he said while addressing a religious talk last week.

Prime Minister Mahathir has said that Naik should stay away from making political speeches in Malaysia.

The Malaysian Prime Minister, who has backed the Muslim scholar several times before, said the preacher has gone too far with his recent racial comments.

Naik is wanted in India in cases of financial irregularities and hate speech.

Malaysia's impatience with Naik also comes days after Malaysian Minister P. Waytha Moorthy, special envoy of the Prime Minister, visited India and met Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.

--IANS

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