PAS has thanked Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad for not deporting controversial preacher Zakir Naik to face what it calls "made up accusations" against him by the Indian government.
In a statement, PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said the decision to not deport Zakir was in line the government's duty to defend him as a permanent resident of the country.
"PAS records its thanks upon the prime minister's actions in allowing Zakir to stay in Malaysia as a permanent resident, and from being sent to India to face the various made-up accusations by the Indian government.
"The prime minister's firm statement defending him, (that) is the right step in line with Islamic principles in shielding its followers from becoming victims of abuse and cruelty," he said.
Tuan Ibrahim added that in thanking the prime minister, PAS was standing firm by its principle of supporting all the good actions of the federal government, and opposing those which are betrayals or divisive.
"This is in line with a harmonious and matured political culture, and with the concept of at-taawun (the basis of Islamic relationships) practised by the party."
On good behaviour
Mahathir stated yesterday that the Pakatan Harapan government had no plans to deport the preacher back to India so long as he refrained from creating any problems here.
The premier's comments came in the wake of media reports in India that the country’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that a formal extradition request had been made for Zakir.
Mahathir's response did not sit well with Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy, who said Malaysia must honour the extradition agreement it signed with India in 2010.
Ramasamy said this was especially so in view of the seriousness of the allegations made against Zakir in his home country – relating to money laundering, inciting communal disharmony and committing unlawful activities.
He had also questioned what Malaysia's reaction would be should India refuse to deport any wanted persons sought by the government here.
Thanking PAS in turn
Meanwhile, Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin took to Facebook to thank PAS for its statement of support towards Mahathir today.
"And I would like to thank PAS. May Allah bless all us Muslims. May Allah guide us all. May Allah strengthen our ties as Muslims. Together we defend those who have been persecuted," he posted.
Videos of Zakir's sermons have caused controversy in several countries, including in India and the UK, the latter of which he has been banned from entering.
In Malaysia, Zakir’s plan to hold a talk in 2016 comparing Islam and Hinduism was initially banned following public outcry.
At the time, the previous BN administration had concluded, after an investigation, that the fugitive preacher had never promoted terrorism.
Nevertheless, then-home minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had said that Zakir would be extradited to India should there be a request from that government.
Zakir was reported to have obtained a Malaysian permanent residence in 2012.
A suit was filed by a number of activists, politicians and lawyers, led by Hindraf’s P Waythamoorthy, in 2017 against the government for allegedly harbouring the preacher.
The group had sought a court declaration that Zakir is a threat to racial and religious harmony in the country and should be prohibited from entering the country.
The Kuala Lumpur High Court dismissed the suit last February.