CONTROVERSIAL preacher Dr Zakir Naik said he will return to India on the condition that he is not arrested until his conviction.
Wanted in his home country for making allegedly inflammatory speeches that incite Muslims to commit terrorism, and facing prosecution over terror and money-laundering charges, Zakir, who is seeking refuge in Malaysia, said he will voluntarily go back upon receiving the Indian Supreme Court’s assurance on the matter.
“I’m ready to return if there is an assurance,” the preacher, who fled abroad in 2016, told Indian magazine The Week.
In Malaysia, where he was granted permanent residency by the previous Barisan Nasional administration, Dr Zakir is facing mounting calls for his deportation by quarters accusing him of fanning religious extremism.
He said he decided on the condition as previous cases have shown that more than 90% of Muslims who faced terror charges were freed only after 10 to 15 years.
He said if he were to be locked up, the time spent behind bars would disrupt his religious mission.
“Why should I be a fool?”
Dr Zakir slammed India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), saying it does not tolerate anyone who speaks against it.
Before BJP came to power, he said, Indians were free to criticise the government, and “get justice at least 80% of the time”.
Now, the figure has dropped to between 10% and 20%, he said.
He added that India’s National Investigation Agency, which is investigating him for terrorism and money-laundering, can question him in Malaysia.
Earlier this month, New Delhi brought formal charges of money-laundering against Dr Zakir, accusing him of acquiring 1.9 billion rupees (RM114.5 million) worth of ill-gotten gains.
He was charged in absentia at a Mumbai court.
Last year, Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism president R.S. Mohan Shan accused the preacher of spreading negative views on non-Muslims in talks nationwide.
The council had called on Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to revoke Dr Zakir’s permanent resident status and deport him immediately.
Dr Mahathir, however, has said Dr Zakir will not be deported so long as he does not cause trouble in the country.
the malaysian insight