The debate on whether Malaysia should deport controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Abdul Karim Naik has intensified in the past week, with various political figures calling for his extradition back to India.
The 54-year-old preacher, who is a Malaysian Permanent Resident (PR), has been wanted by Indian authorities since 2016 for money laundering and inciting extremism thorough hate speech.
Prior to his investigation, Zakir – a doctor by training – was a popular televangelist. He has been listed on the 2019 edition of the The Muslim 500, a ranking of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims.
Here’s a timeline of the events leading to a police investigation against him:
In a controversial speech, Zakir voices support for Osama bin Laden and terrorist group al-Qaeda.
Malaysia awards him the Tokoh Maal Hijrah award in recognition of his contributions to Islam.
He wins Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal International Prize for services to Islam.
Zakir is scheduled to speak at a forum titled “Similarities Between Hinduism and Islam”. The controversial theme is later changed to “Women’s rights in Islam”.
Then-Malaysian Prime Minster Najib Razak invites Zakir to breakfast.
Pagi tadi saya menjemput Dr Zakir Naik untuk bersarapan pagi di kediaman saya.Adalah harapan saya agar Dr Zakir dapat…
Indian authorities investigate Zakir after suspects who attack a cafe in Bangladesh cite his speeches as their source of inspiration. Zakir condemns the attack and claims his speeches were taken out of context.
Many detained al-Qaeda followers also claim to be influenced by Zakir’s speeches.
Indian media report that the preacher has been given Malaysian citizenship and is hiding there, but Malaysia’s Home Ministry denies he is a citizen.
Zakir moves to Malaysia and continues giving talks while on the run from Indian authorities, who are mulling terror charges against him.
Nineteen human rights activists, including Hindu Rights Action Force chairman P. Waytha Moorthy, sue the Malaysian government for harbouring Zakir. The Home Ministry says Zakir is not listed as a terrorist on the United Nations Security Council Resolution and can therefore enter the country.
Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi confirms Zakir has PR status but dismisses claims the ministry gave him preferential treatment in applying for it. The ministry says it is monitoring his talks and speeches.
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi says Malaysia will comply if India requests Zakir’s extradition, but adds it did not receive any request.
Calls arise for Zakir to be deported for his tendency to make racially and religiously insensitive statements. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says the preacher will not be deported as he has PR status, and will let him remain in Malaysia long as he “is not creating any problems”.
Zakir thanks Mahathir for letting him stay.
DR ZAKIR NAIKMeetingTUN DR. MAHATHIR MOHAMADon 7/7/2018
In July, the Indian government confirms it made a formal request for Zakir to be extradited in January.
June 28, 2019
Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah says Malaysia received India’s application for Zakir’s extradition but will not be sending him back.
July 31, 2019
He adds that Zakir cannot be deported back to India as he runs the risk of being killed, but says Malaysia is open to sending the preacher to any country that will take him.
Aug 8, 2019
Zakir makes a speech in Kota Bharu claiming that Malaysian Hindus are more loyal to Indian premier Narendra Modi than to Mahathir. He also claims China mistreated its Uighur Muslims.
In the face of calls for him to return to India, Zakir says Malaysian Chinese should be the first to “go back” to where they came from, and calls them the country’s “new guests”.
The next day, the president of the National Patriots Association, Mohamed Arshad Raji, accuses the preacher for instigating public hatred and asks him to “shut up now“.
Aug 14, 2019
Parliament discusses Zakir’s PR status following his remarks in Kota Bahru.
Three ministers – Communications Minister Gobind Singh Deo, Minister of Water, Land and Natural Resources Xavier Jayakumar, and Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran – demand his expulsion, claiming his comments could create tension between Muslims and non-Muslims in Malaysia.
The PM’s daughter, activist Marina Mahathir, criticises Zakir’s comments, saying many of her family members are Chinese.
Aug 15, 2019
Malaysia’s Criminal Investigation Division director, Huzir Mohamed, says the police has received 115 police reports over Zakir’s provocative comments and will open an investigation against him.