It is the quirkiest of propositions that the man who said every Muslim should be a terrorist does not feel safe from prosecution in India. Controversial preacher Zakir Naik, who inspired many a terrorist attack with his hate speeches, has been living in Malaysia since 2016 after the Razak government gave him permanent residency in the country. Razak, himself, is under fire and has since been hauled up for siphoning billions of dollars out of the country and abuse of power. With Mahathir Mohammed back in charge in what seemed to be a most unlikely term, many of his predecessor’s policies have been reversed and it is obvious that Naik will not enjoy government benediction any longer.
The Modi government has been pursuing the extradition of the radical Islamic preacher, who makes it a point to run down all other religions and, once, even gave a call for all schools to be shut down because girls going there were likely to lose their virginity. Malaysia had taken the stand that the hatemonger could be extradited if India formally asked for it, with the backing of proper documentation, including an Interpol red alert. In January this year, the ministry of external affairs had initiated a formal request for his extradition. With Razak out of the way, the process gathered momentum and it was reported that Naik was ready to take a flight out of the country, although the maverick preacher denied any such plan.
Naik, a medical doctor by profession, took to propagating the puritanical brand of Islam, recommending death penalty for homosexuals and those who abandon Islam as their faith, through his Islamic Research Foundation and Peace TV, and used to draw large crowds as he delivered firebrand speeches that incited his audiences. He took up residence in Malaysia after several countries, including Bangladesh, UK and Canada, banned his entry. He is wanted in India by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which has registered a case against him under anti-terror laws for promoting enmity between different religious groups.
Naik’s is one of the early cases of professionals taking to the path of Islamic extremism, many of whom later on ended up with the ISIS and other terrorist outfits. Well-funded terrorist organisations have been successfully running recruitment drives in different parts of India, enticing youths to join the jihadi movement with the promise of economic empowerment and heaven. Many of them perished in the battlefields of Syria and other war zones. With a well-established network of followers, particularly based in the Middle East, it is most unlikely that Naik will oblige the Indian law-enforcers by taking a direct flight home, although he has promised to return to “his homeland” when he feels that the “government will be just and fair”.