Kuala Lumpur: India’s attempts to deport controversial Muslim preacher Zakir Naik, for alleged terror activities, saw another hurdle on Tuesday as Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad said that he won’t give in easily to India’s demand.
As per media reports, three days after meeting Naik, Malaysian prime minister said his government would always ensure it looked into all factors before responding to any demand, based on the charges of alleged terror activities and money laundering.
“We do not easily follow the demands of others. We must look at all factors before we respond,” Mahathir said in his first public remarks since he met the firebrand cleric on Saturday.
“Otherwise, someone will become a victim,” the Malaysian Prime Minister said.
Responding to questions on Naik, who has permanent resident status in Malaysia, and India’s request to have him extradited, Mahathir said his government would always ensure it looked into all factors before responding to any demand.
Mahathir last week said the cleric would not be handed over to Indian authorities as he had been granted Malaysian permanent resident status.
The prime minister said Zakir, who left India in 2016, would be allowed to stay in the country as long as he was not creating any problem.
However, the decision did not sit well with several groups, who insisted the government return Zakir to India following his alleged tendencies to make racial and religiously insensitive statements, the report said.
India had made a formal extradition request to Malaysia for Naik’s deportation after accusing him of inciting youngsters to commit terror activities through his hate speeches.
A strategist of Malaysia’s ruling Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) had also defended Prime Minister Mahathir’s decision not deport Naik to India, saying doing so would be akin to deporting Uighur Muslims to China.
PPBM strategist Rais Hussin said he personally could see no wrong in Naik’s activities and speeches.
Zakir has also accused the media in India of subjecting him to a campaign of vilification over the past two years.
He has also pledged to expose fake news about him soon.
Naik is being probed under terror and money laundering charges by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The NIA had first registered a case against Naik under anti-terror laws in 2016 for allegedly promoting enmity between different religious groups.
Naik is also under investigation for issuing alleged hate speeches that inspired a deadly terror attack on a popular cafe in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh in 2016.
(With inputs from PTI)