Malaysia bars Zakir Naik from public speaking after racist comments

Naik apologised for his remarks made on August 3, adding it was a misunderstanding

Zakir Naik Sanjay (File) Zakir Naik | Sanjay Ahlawat

Islamic preacher Zakir Naik has been barred from public speaking in all states of Malaysia, a police official in the country said on Tuesday. Naik had been under investigation for allegedly making racist comments against Malaysians of Indian and Chinese origin two weeks ago.

Speaking to The Star newspaper, Datuk Asmawati Ahmad, head of corporate communications for the Royal Malaysian Police, said the order to bar Naik from public speaking was passed “in the interest of national security and to preserve racial harmony”. The official said the order against Naik had been given to all police contingents.

Naik was questioned for several hours on Monday by police for his provocative remarks against Malaysians of Indian and Chinese origin on August 3 at a talk in Kota Baru. Naik had allegedly said Malaysian Hindus were “more loyal to the Narendra Modi government in India” than to the dispensation in Kuala Lumpur. He had also referred to Malaysian Chinese people as being old guests in the country who should go back. Naik is being probed “for intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace”.

According to The Star, until now, a total of seven of Malaysia's 13 states had barred Naik from addressing religious events: Melaka, Johor, Selangor, Penang, Kedah, Perlis and Sarawak.

On Tuesday, Naik issued a statement apologising for his utterances of August 3, which he said was a “misunderstanding”. According to The Star, Naik said, “Even though I have clarified myself, I feel I owe an apology to everyone who feels hurt because of this misunderstanding. I do not want any of you to harbour ill feelings for me.”

"It was never my intention to upset any individual or community. It is against the basic tenets of Islam, and I would like to convey my heartfelt apologies for this misunderstanding," Naik said.

Naik alleged his detractors had “been using selective sentences taken out of context and adding strange fabrications into them”

Mahathir condemns Naik

On Monday, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad condemned Zakir Naik for indulging in politics. Mahathir said Naik had been asked not to be involved in politics when he came to Malaysia, but "now it is clear he wanted to participate in racial politics". Mahathir said Naik was stirring up racial feelings.