PPBM strategist defends Mahathir over not deporting Zakir Naik

Zakir Naik had a brief meeting with Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Saturday.

(FMT) – PPBM strategist Rais Hussin has defended Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s decision not to deport Indian Muslim preacher Dr Zakir Naik. 

Speaking to FMT, Rais said he personally could see no wrong in Naik’s activities and speeches. Deporting him would be akin to deporting Uighur Muslims to China, he said, referring to a request by China for the extradition of 11 Uighur men who entered Malaysia illegally last year from Thailand.

Rais also took issue with criticism of Naik on social media. He said Naik had his own way of articulating his views through debates and Naik’s detractors – those with “a mob mentality” – should debate him rather than asking him to be deported to India.

Naik is wanted by Indian authorities over allegations of money laundering and terrorism. Naik has denied the charges, saying he is a victim of Indian media sensationalising the issue to gain a bigger audience.

Rais also questioned the motives of the Indian authorities whose action, he said, might not be grounded in justice.

He cited a report in The Times of India, in which a judge had criticised the Enforcement Directorate for not taking action against other religious leaders who had criminal charges against them and who had amassed huge amounts of money.

Rais also said that it was unfair of some Malaysians to compare the country’s attempts to bring back convicted killer Sirul Azhar Umar and businessman Low Taek Jho (“Jho Low”) with Malaysia’s stand on deporting Naik to India.

“Sirul was found guilty of murdering Altantuya Shaariibuu, while Jho Low is implicated in grand theft in relation to the 1 Malaysia Development Berhad case. How does that compare to Naik’s comparative debates on religion?”

There was intense media speculation that Naik would be extradited to India, but on Friday, Mahathir said that the government would not deport Naik as he has been granted a Malaysian permanent residency status.

Yesterday, Naik met Mahathir in an unscheduled but brief meeting according to sources. However, it is unclear what transpired during the meeting.