ADUN SPEAKS | Is it true that despite the denials by the Malaysian government, the controversial Islamic preacher from Bombay, Zakir Naik, one of the most wanted fugitives in India, might be hiding in Malaysia?
Last week a Facebook user uploaded a photograph of Naik at the Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Mosque in Putrajaya, also known as the Iron Mosque, after Friday prayers. He said, "Praise be to God, we joined Friday prayers at the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Mosque in Malaysia."
This Facebook posting provides some credible evidence of Zakir's presence in Malaysia.
Despite the trickling of this information on the whereabouts of Zakir, Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed (photo) denied that Zakir was in Malaysia. He even denied a report in the Times of India that Malaysia was harbouring this fugitive.
If it is proven beyond reasonable doubt that Malaysia is indeed harbouring Zakir, then such an act does not harbour well for the good diplomatic relationship between India and Malaysia.
Even if there is no extradition treaty between our two countries, it only makes sense for Malaysia to hand over criminals who have committed crimes in India to the Indian authorities.
I am sure India would be expected to reciprocate such a gesture, if it is found that Malaysians who indulged in criminal activities are found hiding in India.
Wanted for terrorist-related activities
Apart from being known as a controversial Islamic preacher, Zakir is wanted by India for terrorist-related activities and for having links with the underworld. The Indian authorities have found that Zakir’s preaching had something to do with the terrorist attacks in a cafe in Dhaka, Bangladesh, sometime back.
Similarly, the Indian authorities have evidence that he was responsible for instigating some youths in Kerala to take part in ISIS related activities.
The most damning thing about Zakir is the fact that he had long established links with Mumbai's underworld. It has surfaced latterly that Iqbal Kaskar, the brother of Dawood Ibrahim, also one of India's most wanted criminals, had links with Zakir.
In fact, Iqbal Kaskar was the chief financial officer who was responsible for raising funds from underworld activities to finance Zakir's Islamic Research Foundation (IRF). This was the confession made by Iqbal to India's Enforcement Directorate (ED) recently.
The Malaysian authorities might have a "soft" spot for Muslim intellectuals and preachers. This is fine. But surely they cannot be silent on a person who has brought death and destruction to innocent people by engaging in the worst forms of preaching, leading to terrorist activities.
Just because Malaysia has good relationship with Turkey does not mean that it has to function on behest of the government there. Recently, Turkish intellectuals and those who oppose the authoritarian policies of the Erdogan regime have been deported to Turkey without proper investigation.
At the same time, Zakir is given a red-carpet welcome, given the status of permanent resident and if I am not mistaken, he might even have acquired his Malaysian citizenship by now.
The Malaysian government must come clean on the matter of the Islamic preacher Zakir. It cannot keep on denying that he is not here. Events are slowly, but surely, unfolding that even Saudi Arabia is not willing to provide sanctuary to Zakir, given the overwhelming evidence against him for inciting terrorist activities.
While Malaysia has taken a tough stand in terms of arresting those who are sympathetic and those who support the efforts of ISIS, it continues to harbour criminals who come in the guise of religious scholars and preachers.
P RAMASAMY is Deputy Chief Minister II of Penang and the state assemblyperson for Perai.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.