BJP MP Subramanian Swamy on Saturday wondered if Islamic preacher Zakir Naik had indeed praised the ‘real freedom of speech’ in India. This was after a website quoted Naik as saying that Muslims in India ‘get more freedom to practice their religion than any other non-Muslim country, including Western nations.’
Reacting to the news item, Swamy wrote, “Has he been misquoted?”
Has he been misquoted?
— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) July 17, 2020
Although the context of Naik’s latest speech is not clear since his YouTube channel is not unavailable in India, the Islamic preacher had indeed praised the freedom of speech guaranteed in the Indian constitution. Speaking at the Peace Conference in 2011, Naik had said, “There are very few countries in the world where it is written in their constitution that every citizen has a right to preach, practice and follow the religion…Other western countries talk about freedom, but there is no freedom there. America and UK say they have freedom, but there’s no freedom.”
Founder of Islamic Research Foundation, Naik has been forced to live in Malaysia after the Indian government accused him of promoting terrorism through his speeches. Last year, Naik had apologised after he controversially said that Chinese living in Malaysia were the Muslim-dominated country’s guests.
His comments had evoked angry reactions with several ministers from the government headed by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad demanding strict action against the preacher. Naik, who enjoys a permanent residency in Malaysia, had also irked the Malaysian PM, who has been backing him up until now.
Mohamad, according to the government news agency Bernama, said on Sunday that Naik had crossed the line adding that he can preach but he ‘wasn’t doing that… he was talking about sending the Chinese back to China, Indians back to India, that’s for me a political move.’