Islamic preacher, Zakir Naik, has mocked the coverage in a section of the Indian media, which claimed that he had been given Malaysian citizenship.
“Not true at all,” said Naik’s spokesperson, Arif Malik.
Quoting Naik’s words, Malik said, “Till a few months ago, the Indian media had been saying I was banned in Malaysia, and now they’re saying I’ve got Malaysian citizenship. That’s ridiculous. And there’s no truth in the Malaysian citizenship rumour.”
Deputy Home Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, too dismissed reports of Naik being given Malaysian citizenship adding that this was because it would take a long time before a person was given citizenship.
“We don’t give out (citizenships) automatically unless the person was born in the country to Malaysian parents,” he said.
Hindustan Times had reported that Naik may have taken refuge in Malaysia to stay out of the reach of the National Investigation Agency.
The HT report said, “Amid the ongoing investigation against televangelist Zakir Naik and the lack of clarity on his current location, seen as a tactic to stay out of reach of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), it has now come to the fore that Naik has also bagged Malaysian citizenship.
“While it is suspected that Naik is in Malaysia at present, instead of Africa or Thailand as is believed, the investigators said there have been no extraditions from Malaysia in the past, though a treaty was inked in 2010.”
Indian media had earlier reported on Malaysia being one of those countries, that had banned Naik for his alleged hate speeches. The preacher had later clarified that the country had, in fact, accorded him the highest civilian honour.
The central government recently banned the IRF and declared it as a terrorist organisation under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for five years.
In an open letter, Naik, 51, who is abroad, had said he he will pursue all legal options to get the ban repealed and that the judiciary will fail the Modi government in its ‘plans’.
Naik has been booked along with unnamed IRF officials under section 153-A of IPC (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) beside various sections of UAPA.
“Before investigations were done, even before reports submitted, the ban was already decided. IRF was to be banned. Whether it was owing to my religion or some other reason, does not matter. What now matters is that my work of 25 years – completely lawful work – has been banned. And that is the most unfortunate thing for this country,” Naik said in his letter.
“From the government’s point of view, the timing itself could not have been better. The decision to ban IRF was taken in the middle of the demonetisation fiasco, as the country reeled under the self-imposed cash crunch. I won’t be surprised if this ban was meant to distract media from what was going on in the country. For the public that is starved for cash, for trade and basic amenities, one cannot expect much of resistance,” he stated.