Amanah has taken the middle ground in the latest controversy surrounding Islamic preacher Zakir Naik.
Party vice-president Mahfuz Omar (photo, above) said Amanah disagreed with Zakir’s latest statement claiming Hindu Malaysians are more loyal to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi than Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
He said it was “unwise for a non-Malaysian citizen to make negative conclusions against any Malaysian citizens’ loyalty”.
Even so, the party also disagreed with calls for the preacher - who holds a Malaysian permanent residency - to be sent back to India.
Zakir is currently wanted in his home country to answer to charges related to terrorism and money laundering.
Instead, this issue should be handled wisely, Mahfuz said.
“The muddying of inter-racial relations will occur if politicians and NGOs are not big-hearted... Amanah hopes all parties can prioritise negotiations and discussions and not display hardness and stubbornness.
“On the issue of Zakir’s statement[...], we agree with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s decision and stand that Zakir can continue to stay in Malaysia. However, at the same time, Zakir must understand and respect the unique racial harmony in Malaysia.
“Zakir, too, must understand that anyone given permanent residence is bound by, and must understand, the national constitution, religious and cultural diversity and Malaysia’s legal system,” the Pokok Sena MP said in a statement.
Mahfuz stated that while these conditions do not serve as a hindrance for the preacher to carry out his religious activities, they should serve as rules in ensuring Malaysia’s political stability.
During a recent sermon in Kelantan, the controversial preacher had claimed that Hindus in Malaysia had “100 times more rights than Muslims in India” despite both communities being minorities in their respective countries.
“So much so they (Hindu Malaysians) support the prime minister of India and not the prime minister of Malaysia," he had said.
This resulted in renewed calls for the Mumbai-born preacher to be extradited back to India.
Mahathir has repeatedly refused to deport Zakir, despite a standing extradition treaty with India, stating this was as long as the permanent resident did not break any local laws.
Following the latest controversy, Mahathir again stated Zakir would be allowed to stay as the latter might be “killed” if sent home.
The premier, however, stated other countries willing to take Zakir would be welcomed to do so.
Zakir was reportedly granted Saudi Arabian citizenship back in 2017. He was granted permanent residence here in 2012 by the then-BN government.
He has consistently denied any wrongdoing, and also to spreading hate speech in Malaysia and India.
Over his latest statement on Hindu Malaysians’ loyalty, he claimed it had been taken out of context and that he was merely referring to the latter’s trust in the Indian government in regards to criminal charges against him.