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Report: Zakir's extradition raised during Dr M-Modi meet in Russia

Published:  |  Modified:

The status of controversial Muslim preacher Dr Zakir Naik was raised during a meeting between Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.

According to Hindustan Times, Modi asked Mahathir to take steps to extradite the preacher to India, where he is wanted on charges of inciting terrorism and money laundering.

“Both the parties have decided that our officials will stay in contact regarding the matter and it is an important issue for us,” Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale was quoted as saying.

Mahathir and Modi met in Vladivostok, Russia, ahead of the three-day Eastern Economic Summit.

This is the second meeting between the two leaders. The first was held on May 31 last year when the Indian premier called on Mahathir in Putrajaya.

Modi tweeted about the meeting in Malay.

Narendra Modi ✔ @narendramodi

Telah mengadakan pertemuan yang baik dengan Tun. Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Perdana Menteri Malaysia. Kami berbincang mengenai hubungan dua hala antara negara kami dan cara mempelbagaikan kerjasama @chedetofficial

Zakir, who claims the charges against him were fabricated, has a Malaysian permanent resident status.

Muslim groups in Malaysia have repeatedly urged Mahathir not to deport the preacher for fear that he might be subject to persecution, a claim that India has dismissed.

Last month, Zakir (photo) courted trouble over his remarks regarding Hindu Malaysians and Chinese Malaysians during a speech in Kelantan, which became the subject of a police investigation.

This led Mahathir to censure the preacher for crossing the line, adding that his permanent resident status would depend on the outcome of the investigations.

Zakir, who claimed that his remarks were taken out of context, has since apologised. However, the authorities have barred him from holding public lectures.

The preacher's presence in Malaysia is a political conundrum for the Mahathir administration with regard to the sentiments of Muslims and non-Muslims.

On Tuesday, Rais Yatim, who heads the Negeri Sembilan chapter of Mahathir's party Bersatu, had questioned the reasons for according Zakir permanent resident status. 

Several members of Mahathir's cabinet and Pakatan Harapan leaders have also called for Zakir's deportation.

Earlier today, Mahathir also met with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss efforts to further strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries.

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