Guest who? Wanted Indian preacher Zakir Naik serves notice to MP, assemblyman, minister over ‘defamation’

Dr. Zakir Naik speaks in the Maldives in May 2010. maapu / Wikimedia Commons
Dr. Zakir Naik speaks in the Maldives in May 2010. maapu / Wikimedia Commons

Like a proverbial cold sore that just won’t go away, blighting the face of our dear nation, “controversial” (aka, wanted) preacher Zakir Naik is back in the headlines again after his lawyer confirmed that the Malaysia resident would be suing three government officials over comments they made about him.

According to his suit, Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran, MP Charles Santiago, and assemblyman Satees Muniandy, are accused of making remarks that left him open to public ridicule and gave the impression that was a threat to Malaysian national security.

“Satees has a lawyer, whom we emailed the notice. Another copy was also couriered to him. As for Kulasegaran, he was served today,” Zakir’s lawyer, Akberdin Abdul Kader told Malay Mail. MP Santiago has also confirmed receiving a legal notice, and that his lawyers are looking into further actions.

According to the daily, Zakir is seeking “compensation and damage claims,” as well as a court injunction to take down four “defamatory” news articles about him.

While the exact grounds of the suit against Satees and Kulasegaran are unknown, Santiago posted the legal document he received from Zakir’s lawyer in full, and it seems that the Islamic preacher is accusing him of defamation after the MP made statements linking him to recent SOSMA arrests accusing Malaysians of Tamil Tiger terrorist activities.

You may remember that Zakir found himself trending in the news, after he made a highly contentious speech in August, claiming that Chinese Malaysians were “guests” and that if guests like him were being asked to leave for their divisive views, the older guests should go first.

Oh, and in that same talk, he suggested that Malaysian Indians were more loyal to Narendra Modi than to our own government.

Always making friends in his host nation, that guy!

After a video of the talk went viral on social media platforms, hundreds of police reports were filed against the preacher, who purportedly specializes in “comparative religion” studies, eventually leading to several states banning him from public speaking over concerns his words would sow disharmony.

As many individuals from sundry religious backgrounds have pointed out, talks on “comparative religion” — a field that has occasionally been criticized for displaying ethnocentrist tendencies — are out of place in a multi-cultural, multi-faith Malaysia, where rubbishing another person’s belief is considered offensive. And also just annoying!

Zakir’s followers in Malaysia have found themselves on the wrong side of the law before, with one Perlis preacher taken into police custody after making an alleged hate speech in the state. He was granted permanent residency status by the previous Barisan Nasional administration, despite the fact that many Malaysians have questioned the choice to house him here.

Back in India, the preacher is a very-much wanted man over allegations that he influenced Islamic fundamentalists and also stole money from his various charities for his own gain. He denies these charges, saying a religiously motivated witch hunt is behind his warrant.

In addition to unspecified damages, Zakir is also seeking a published apology from the newspapers and online portals that carried the comments of the three government officials.

 

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