Monday, July 17, 2017

Open Arms for Zakir Naik in Malaysia

In April this year, televangelist and Islamic cleric Zakir Naik (left) created a furious furor among non-Muslims when he came to conduct a series of lectures in Malaysia – with many claiming he had demeaned other religions in his provocative sermons.
 
They also demanded Zakir be barred from speaking as his sermons could harm the harmony in Malaysia’s multi-religious society.
 
The Malaysian government's response was telling. It supported him. Even embraced him.
 
Zakir who is from India is not without controversy. He came under the media spotlight after Bangladeshi authorities said that one of the gunmen responsible for an attack on Holey Artisan Bakery, a Dhaka cafĂ© on July 02, 2016 and which left 22 people dead – had been inspired by him.
 
Following the bloody assault, both India and Bangladesh launched investigations into the controversial Zakir.
 
In November, India's counterterrorism agency, the National Investigation Agency, filed a First Information Report, an official police complaint, against him and the Mumbai-based non-profit Islamic Research Foundation that he established in 1991, accusing him of indulging in unlawful activities and promoting religious hatred.
 
The Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi also responded by imposing a five-year ban on the IRF under the country's anti-terror laws.
 
His Peace TV has been banned in both India and Bangladesh. The Islamic channel broadcasts from Dubai which Zakir founded in 2006 and which claims to reach 100 million people worldwide.
 
It had aired inflammatory talks in respect to Hindus, Jews and Christians, and even the Sufis and Shias, calling them qabr parast (grave worshippers) and thus mushrik and kafir (polytheist and infidel).
 
The Office of Communications (Ofcom) the British government’s regulatory and competition authority for the broadcasting, telecommunications and postal industries had investigated the programs aired on Peace TV and its research findings confirmed in 2011 that it contained extremist messages.
 
To top it all, there is a bounty on his head. Not one but two.
 
On Tuesday, an India-based Shia group reportedly offered Rs15 million rupees (RM884,033) on Facebook, declaring that anyone who kills Zakir will receive the cash reward and also rewards in the afterlife.
 
According to the Hindustan Times, Hussaini Tigers’ president Syed Kalbe Hussain Naqvi claimed that Zakir is a “khalnayak” (Hindi for villain) and a “kafir” (heathen) for insulting “the Prophet of Muslims”.
 
And on Thursday, a Hindu nationalist politician Sadhvi Prachi, declared a 50 lakhs (RM2.94 million) reward in her personal capacity for Zakir’s beheading.
 
“I have announced the reward because Zakir Naik is not a religious preacher, but a terrorist”, she was quoted telling Indian daily The Indian Express in a report published Friday.
 
She also reportedly urged India to investigate the terror links of all “such preachers working in madrasahs” in the country.
 
The UK, Canada and other countries have already barred Zakir from their countries.
 
And yet, Malaysia welcomes this hateful heel with open arms. What’s wrong with my country?

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