KUALA LUMPUR, July 7 ― Reports claiming that one of the militants behind the Dhaka killings had followed Dr Zakir Naik on social media indicate that the Mumbai-based Islamic preacher advocates terrorism, a local interfaith group said.
The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism's deputy president RS Mohan Shan also urged Putrajaya to rescind Dr Zakir’s Maal Hijrah award here and ban him from speaking in Malaysia again.
“Now all this is proven he is one of the motivators to make all kind of terrorism. He is doing that wherever he go, he is feeding terrorism speech into Islam to all the youngsters in the world,” he told Malay Mail Online when contacted yesterday.
“The government said they want to give importance to Islam, we do not deny that. But we have other scholars and preachers who can come and give [good] thoughts on Islam, not the reverse where they disturb the harmony of the country,” he added.
Bangladesh’s English-language newspaper The Daily Star reported Monday that one of the Dhaka attackers, Rohan Imtiaz, had posted on Facebook last year quoting Dr Zakir as “urging all Muslims to be terrorists”.
Dr Zakir had conducted a lecture series in Malaysia in April, triggering uproar among local religious groups who urged Malaysia not to fraternise with the man who had in 2006 expressed support for Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.
Putrajaya, Islamist opposition party PAS and some clerics, however, defended the Mumbai-based televangelist, with Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi describing Dr Zakir as a “very wise man”.
Amid the uproar, it was reported that Terengganu Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman had gifted three islands in Tasik Kenyir to the preacher.
Malaysian Indian Progressive Association’s secretary-general S. Bharathidasan, when recalling the incident, criticised the decision and urged the government not to give any recognition to the Islamic preacher.
“Remember Terengganu wanted to give him some island? That should not be given and it should be cancelled. There is no place to recognise Zakir Naik in this country,” he said.
He acknowledged The Daily Star’s claim that Rohan was one of Dr Zakir’s social media followers and echoed Mohan Shan’s views on the matter, also calling the preacher a “most dangerous person”.
“We have been protesting just because he will bring negative influence into the country and disturb the peace and harmony here,” the MIPAS secretary-general said.
Co-president of the Centre for a Better Tomorrow Gan Ping Sieu, however, took a more cautious approach, saying it was not fair to impart judgment on the preacher simply because a terrorist followed him on social media.
“ZN has been a controversial imam. He has also been involved in promoting inter-religious understanding, especially among Muslims and Hindus in India,” he said, referring to Dr Zakir by his initials.
“Having said that, like preachers of all religions, ZN can err too. One should be more discerning and not be a blind follower.”
Yesterday, Deputy Minister for Islamic Affairs Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said it was premature to conclude that Dr Zakir encourages terrorism as the claim that he had urged all Muslims to be terrorists should first be verified.
Last Friday, five gunmen laid siege to a restaurant in Dhaka, Bangladesh that ended in 22 deaths.
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the incident, although the Bangladeshi authorities have rejected their claim, blaming it instead of a domestic militant group.
Malaysian police have confirmed that two people featured in photos on the attack previously studied at Monash University’s campus here.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said on July 4 that local authorities have yet to verify whether the duo who have since been killed were the attackers or the hostages.
Bangladeshi police has since confirmed the two former Monash University students were the cafe attackers.
Now what is Putrajaya going to do bout this? Are they going to rescind Dr Zakir’s Maal Hijrah award here and ban him from speaking in Malaysia again? His speeches advocate violence in subtle ways sometimes direct claiming the Koran authorize this! Well the police are going get their hands full if this man is invited to speak again and if his audio and video materials are not banned.