Pakatan Harapan: What is so special about this Naik Fella from India?

July 12, 2018

Pakatan Harapan: What is so special about this Naik Fella from India?

By Dennis Ignatius

Image result for Naik and Mahathir

Dr. Mahathir Mohamad protects an Indian Cobra

What’s so special about Zakir Naik? Why is he so uniquely deserving of Putrajaya’s support and attention?

These are among the many questions that Malaysians are asking in the wake of the government’s decision to allow him to stay; so far no satisfactory answers have been forthcoming.

Well-deserved reputation

Any which way you look at it, Naik is a highly polarising demagogue. Considered one of the most influential Wahhabi ideologues in the world, he aggressively propagates a version of Islam that even Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Salman says is in need of reform, and which, incidentally, the National Fatwa Council (NFC) of Malaysia declared “has no place in Malaysia”.

Countries as diverse as Canada, India, the UK and Bangladesh consider him an extremist who seems to endorse terrorism. Some countries have denied him entry as well. Bangladesh alleges that he inspired a terrorist attack in Dhaka in 2016 which left 22 dead. India’s National Investigation Agency is also investigating his foundation for alleged money laundering.

While he consistently denies these allegations and claims that he has been misunderstood or taken out of context, it’s hard not to conclude from even a cursory viewing of his many YouTube offerings that his reputation for extremism is well-deserved.

Dishonest and deceitful

Image result for Naik and Mahathir

Now that he is in the dock of public opinion, and desperate for refuge in Malaysia, he is attempting an image makeover, claiming that his “primary concern” has always been “to foster social harmony”. He is, of course, being utterly dishonest given that he has a long history of being extremely intolerant, insulting and demeaning of other faiths.

And when cornered by his own remarks, he immediately cries that he is but a victim of some vague conspiracy against Islam, part of a “broader objective of demonising Islam and Muslims”, never mind that it is his own hate-filled invective that does more to demonise Islam that anything else.

Skillfully exploiting our divisions

While many of us might shudder at the thought of someone like Naik being turned loose in a country like ours which is struggling to contain religious and racial extremism, he has apparently no shortage of supporters. With the Wahhabi narrative already well-established in the corridors of power, the NFC’s opinion notwithstanding, he is of course a perfect fit. His choice of abode – in Putrajaya – is itself very telling.

He also seems to have adroitly exploited Malaysia’s political, racial and religious divisions to his advantage, endearing himself to many in UMNO and PAS by his endorsement of both Islamic and Malay supremacism. And they, in turn, have showered him with a level of praise, privilege and protection that he never found anywhere else. No surprise then that he loves it here.

Legal obligations

The Indian government is now apparently seeking to extradite Naik (who remains an Indian citizen) to face money laundering and terrorism-related charges.

Ultimately, extradition is a legal matter subject to treaty obligations which the courts must decide upon. The government must take a principled stand and affirm that it will respect its legal obligations. To do otherwise, to insist that Naik be treated differently from others in similar situations, would undermine the government’s own oft-repeated commitment to the rule of law.

Does Naik deserve to be here?

Beyond the issue of extradition, however, is the larger question of whether or not he deserves to be a Malaysian permanent resident. A strong argument can be made that extremists like Naik do not deserve residency status in our country.

His values, his actions and his worldview stand in sharp contrast to the kind of tolerant, respectful and inclusive nation we are trying to build. He has nothing to contribute to making our nation a strong, united and prosperous one. He is but an intolerant religious bully who does not deserve our respect let alone our protection.

And don’t forget that this is also the same opportunist who, convinced that UMNO would rule forever, insisted at a seminar last year that Muslims ought to vote for a Muslim leader who might be corrupt (read Najib) rather than a Muslim leader who depends on non-Muslim support (read Mahathir).

Of course, once Najib lost power, he immediately ingratiated himself with Putrajaya’s new leaders and now sings their praises. And this is the man that some in Pakatan Harapan are now defending.

Naik doesn’t belong here. If he doesn’t have the courage to return home to India to answer the charges against him, let him find sanctuary in Saudi Arabia; after all, he is a great admirer of the Wahhabi clerics who hold sway there.

Government owes us an explanation

Image result for Malaysia-India Relations

In the interest of transparency, the government has an obligation to explain why it refuses to extradite him and why he deserves to remain in Malaysia.

As well, the government needs to clarify whether it is paying for Naik’s ever-present security detail, whether he is receiving financial support of any kind from the public purse, and whether he is being considered for Malaysian citizenship now that India has withdrawn his passport.

Whatever it is, the government should not underestimate how deeply offended many Malaysians are with Naik and how deeply disappointed they are by the inexplicable and shocking decision to continue offering him sanctuary here.

Dennis Ignatius is a former ambassador.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

14 thoughts on “Pakatan Harapan: What is so special about this Naik Fella from India?

  1. Dr. Mahathir loves controversy. On Naik, however, he has gone to the extreme to appease PAS, UMNO and the mullahs in Malaysia. The Lions in Pakatan Harapan are now kambings beri-beri. –Din Merican

  2. Is All good done in Malaysia by the new PH Government being undone by one foreign religious preacher who is not welcome even in some countries of his own religion?

  3. A country gives PR to a person who can contribute positively. Is there a lack of preachers of quality in Malaysia and does this preacher have the special quality?

  4. As I said earlier, and the writer has suggested somewhat the same thing, take the middle road and send him to some other country. It need not be Saudi Arabia, or even anywhere in Asia. Antartica would be nice to cool him down, but let him choose his favourite abode. Anywhere but Malaysia.

  5. I think it is just realpolitik.

    Antagonise the Religious Right in Malaysia unnecessarily, and this would make them more likely to form a clerico-fascist alliance with UMNO Baru.
    Clerico-fascism is more of a threat to Malaysia than hard right racism.

    (Moderate, liberal, progressive Malays and progressive Islamists of AMANAH need to speak up and oppose our local Religious Far Right types and the clerico-fascists, this will also strengthen Dr M’s hand in dealing with religious extremists).

  6. Zakir Naik has no place in a multiracial society. On what criteria Mahathir has given him the permission to stay like any other citizen when he was involved in activities in India detrimental to other human beings. PH ministers must deliberate his past activities with all the youtubes and other articles going viral to decide on this religious extremism to come to the right decision. PR status was given by UMNO without adhering to strict rules if he was a deserving case. Now PH should investigate if he was justified for a PR.

    It was very frustrating to many who have been living for 3 generations (stateless people) and still not able to get PR due to certain technical errors. The question is why should this Zakir guy be given PR when he just entered Malaysia few years
    back after absconding from India for some criminal activities.

  7. Pingback: Pakatan Harapan: What is so special about this Naik Fella from India? — Din Merican: the Malaysian DJ Blogger – elunarcom

  8. The only way to explain it is Zakir Naik is religo version of Mahathir 1.0. The mass supporters just love self-abuse and the mediocre wannabes around him see as a religo racketeering opportunity.

  9. In the FIFA World Cup 2018 teams that do not keep their eye on the ball invariably have it taken from them. Real life is no different. Keep your eye on the ball.

  10. The main reason to dumb this guy is he walks, talks and unlikely NOT to be, a standard CON artist that India has a long history of. The fact his tool is religion just make its more urgent to do so..

    Listen to him twist things even in public – its a great act with a great tool – that of Islam with its volumeous text and devoted flock. BUT its because the tool he has is so perfect with talents of a con-artist – his success just confirms HE IS A con artist.

  11. This man if not contained will bring about a war fare between religions. He advocates non tolerance of other religions. He should be extradited to face charges in India. They are very serious charges

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