Hate preacher a permanent resident, says government. Activist has one question: Why?

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

Controversial hate preacher Zakir Naik, sought by India in connection with money-laundering charges and long accused of promoting terrorism in his teachings, has had Malaysian permanent residency for the past five years, the government admitted yesterday.

Siri Kasim would like to know why.

The crusading lawyer-activist yesterday evening posed the question on many minds.

“What is the justification for giving [permanent residency] to Zakir Naik,” Kasim asked in an interview with Freemalaysiatoday.com.

Pointing out that he has already been barred from entering several countries, she asked another, even more pointed, question: “What is his contribution to Malaysia?”

Naik is an Indian televangelist, whose preachings are banned in Canada, the UK, Bangladesh, and in his native India. His teachings have been accused of fostering religious divides as well as promoting terror. Links to the Dhaka, Bangladesh café attack have been drawn, with two of the five terrorists involved citing his sermons as inspiration.

With 300,000 residents of Indian descent having lived a stateless existence in Malaysia despite having resided here for decades, Kassim asked why Naik’s case was given priority.

Naik is currently wanted in India under charges of money laundering, and non-bailable warrant has been issued under his name. The Indian National Investigation Agency (NIA) is currently working with Interpol to issue an international arrest warrant.

Harboring a wanted criminal, Malaysian government officials have expressed there willingness to assist Indian authorities provided “there is a relevant agreement between both countries on such cooperation,” to quote Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Naik claimed that any return to India would not guarantee his safety, a statement that was met with incredulity by former ruling UMNO minister Zaid Ibrahim, who quickly tweeted that “India is not like Malaysia. They don’t torture those who are brought to trial. Rule of law observed better than in this country”. Touche.

Kasim, meanwhile, has already filed a suit with 18 others against the government’s decision to harbor the criminal.

For more of her passionate take on the subject, watch here.

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