LETTER | It is a name we have all heard over and over again from the beginning of 2019 until the very end. Countless news articles, debates, and conversations have centred around the Indian preacher, he even earned the number 8 spot in the top 24 news items selected by Malaysiakini based on an extensive survey.
Zakir Naik, who found solace under the protection of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, has been a thorn in the side of Malaysians that gets more painful by the day.
From the beginning, there were objections to the Indian fugitive being granted permanent residency. The controversial preacher, wanted by India’s counterterrorism agency, is no innocent lamb. He has been accused of serious crimes, including inspiring a gunmen attack in Bangladesh with his radical lectures and Islamic TV channel as well as using his non-profit Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) as a front for money-laundering.
Accusations revolving around terrorism and money-laundering are no laughing matter and granting such a problematic and influential man protection was always questionable.
Rather than accept his haven in Malaysia with immense gratitude and shutting up, Naik has spent the last year doing little but biting the hand that fed him.
Naik has been actively stoking racial tension and disunity. He has insulted both Chinese and Indian Malaysians, calling them “old guests” and questioning the loyalty of Indian Malaysians to their leaders.
These hurtful and naïve comments alone should have been the last straw, and Mahathir should have waved goodbye to the man who has done nothing to earn his place here. Rather, Zakir was only barred from making public speeches and sent off with a slap on the wrist.
This has not stopped him from attending important events alongside Mahathir, most recently the Kuala Lumpur Summit 2019 which saw Muslim leaders from all over the world uniting.
But this is not enough for someone who so craves power and attention. Zakir Naik has had the nerve to sue Penang Deputy Chief Minister (II) P Ramasamy not once, but twice for defamation. As if his reputation was a spotless gem prior to Ramasamy’s statements.
Tell me, what credibility or right does a wanted money-laundering, terror-inciting suspect have to sue a leader of the country granting him refuge?
Even when Zakir is not actively doing harm, he is a thorn in our side. Outrage has spread through Malaysia following the publicising of an exam question which centred around Zakir Naik. The question, which called him an “icon of the Islamic world” who “is able to reason and answer every question that is asked to him”, was so outrageously biased that it was almost laughable.
And don’t even get me started on an old video of his which is making its rounds wherein the "iconic" preacher allegedly warns Muslims against wishing their friends a "Merry Christmas".
Time and time again, this man has stirred up anger, hate, and the kind of tension that is the last thing we need in Malaysia. The country is going through a hard period as it is and we do not need an extra problem.
We can only hope that one of the government’s 2020 resolutions will be to send Zakir Naik back where he came from.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.