Zakir Naik, the controversial Indian Islamic preacher accused of spreading hate speech, laundering money, and funding terrorism by the Indian government has launched what appears to be a stinging attack against China. His attack is so damaging to the Malaysia-China bilateral ties that not even Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had dared do it.
Speaking on the subject of “Islamophobia” at Stadium Sultan Muhammad IV in Kota Bharu, Kelantan on Friday (9 August) night, the fugitive who currently lives and is worshipped like a Prophet in Malaysia said – “Do you know today who are the Muslims that are persecuted the most? It is the Uighur Muslims. China is trying its level best to see that the Muslims are exterminated.”
Comparing the Palestinians and Rohingyas who are still able to fast and pray, the preacher claimed that the Uighurs people were systematically persecuted. Mr. Zakir told a 30,000 crowd in the state of Kelantan that not only were the Muslim Uighurs in the Xinjiang region of China were denied rights to fast, but also forced to drink alcohol and stopped from learning the al-Quran (Koran).
The Mumbai-born Islamic preacher complained that while non-Muslim nations were the first who raised concerns over the discrimination of Uighurs, some Muslim countries had thrown their support behind China instead of slamming the communist country. Hence, he suggests that all Muslim countries should speak up against the persecution of Muslims and Islamophobia worldwide.
Apparently, Zakir was furious, or pretended to be furious, that 15 out of 37 countries that signed a letter backing China’s treatment of Uighurs in the Xinjiang region were from Muslim countries. Although he did not name the 15 Muslim countries that supported China, it was reported that Saudi Arabia – the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques – is one of them.
Last month, a day after 22 mostly Western countries launched the world’s first major challenge to China’s so-called crackdown on Muslim Uighurs, 37 other countries jumped to Beijing’s defense. Besides Saudi, other signatories from Muslim-majority nations include Pakistan, Qatar, Syria, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, Kuwait, Oman and Tajikistan.
The letter, signed by the Muslim countries said – “Faced with the grave challenge of terrorism and extremism, China has undertaken a series of counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures in Xinjiang, including setting up vocational education and training centers.” The letter which praised the Chinese also said there had been no terrorist attack for three years as a result of the security measures.
More importantly, the letter expressed “appreciation” that human rights are respected and protected – “We appreciate China’s commitment to openness and transparency. China has invited a number of diplomats, international organization officials and journalist to Xinjiang to witness the progress of the human rights cause and the outcomes of counter-terrorism and de-radicalization there.”
Perhaps Zakir had missed, or deliberately ignored, the news that one of his biggest supporters, Mujahid Rawa, a Malaysian minister in charge of religious affairs, had paid a visit to China between June 23 and 30 and confirmed that those camps were indeed centres for “transformation-through-education”. Is this troublemaker preacher trying to say that Minister Mujahid had lied?
The radical Islamist preacher also lectured the Muslim countries who had refused to support fellow Muslim Uighurs that they should not exchange power and wealth for afterlife paradise. Zakir’s remarks indicate that Saudi and its minions have betrayed the Islam and hence are not qualified to be rewarded with 72 virgins, the crown prize often used to keep Muslims in obedience.
Hilariously, Zakir is the same man accused by India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) of money laundering to the tune of RM113 million (US$28 million) by using his Islamic Research Foundation to organise dubious donations supposedly for the social welfare of the Muslim community but the proceeds were diverted to purchase at least 20 flats in the cities of Mumbai and Pune in India.
While Zakir is a wanted man in India, he was granted permanent resident by former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak. When the new government of Mahathir Mohamad defeated the corrupt government of Najib last May, the new prime minister surprisingly said that Malaysia would not deport Zakir “as long as he is not creating any problems” in the country.
On June 10, the defiant PM Mahathir made it known that he won’t send Mr. Zakir back to India even if requested by New Delhi. When asked by journalists, Mahathir said – “Zakir in general feels that he is not going to get a fair trial (in India).” Not only the Malaysian leader insulted Indian’s judicial system, he has also dishonoured the extradition treaty signed in 2010 between both countries.
However, after news broke that India was seriously considering raising import duties on refined palm oil from Malaysia from 45% to 50% – the same as the duty imposed on the commodity from Indonesia, Mr. Mahathir had twisted a new story. The 94-year-old premier said despite Zakir Naik is an “unwelcome guest” in Malaysia, the hate preacher still can’t be sent away.
Mr. Mahathir argued – “We have a multi-racial, multi-religious population in Malaysia. We don’t want anybody who comes up and expresses extreme views about race relations and other religions. But on the other hand, it is difficult to send him anywhere else because many countries do not want to have him.” His statement was an admission that Zakir is indeed an extreme radicalised Muslim.
But why hasn’t Mahathir government sent Zakir Naik back to India as officially requested? Coincidentally, during his visit to Turkey last month, the premier has put forward a tripartite alliance involving Malaysia, Turkey and Pakistan as a new champion in the Muslim world. When asked whether the alliance will fight oppression against Uighurs by Beijing, Mahathir beat around the bush.
He said – “Making a statement is easy, but action is much harder.” Obviously, the Malaysian leader, like Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, dare not offend China. In fact, both Malaysia and Turkey were visibly absent from a joint letter by 22 countries to the U.N. condemning China’s brutality against the Uighurs. Hence, it’s laughable when Zakir praised Mahathir’s courage at the same event in Kelantan.
The snake oil salesman declared Mahathir as the “only Muslim leader” with the courage to stand up to the U.S. and the U.K. for their alleged war crimes in the Middle East, conveniently avoided linking Mahathir’s inaction with regards to Muslim Uighurs in China. That brings to table an interesting puzzle – did Zakir Naik condemn China on behalf of Mahathir?
As a permanent resident of Malaysia, the most Mr. Zakir can be allowed to do is to preach Islam within the country. But when he starts crossing border and criticises China, U.S. and U.K. in front of 30,000 Muslims in Malaysia, the preacher who is currently harboured by Mahathir gives an impression that he has the blessing from the prime minister to play politics.
It gives a perception that because Mahathir cannot condemn Beijing directly largely due to bilateral economic relations, Zakir was secretly appointed as the spokesman of the Malaysian prime minister to criticise China directly. Worse, Zakir’s stinging attacks on China is seen as interfering – even threatening – the internal affairs of China in combating terrorism, extremism and radicalization.
Even if Mahathir hadn’t a clue of Zakir’s pre-planned attack against China, the Indian Islamic preacher’s speech in Kelantan could be seen as a provocation and a declaration of war against the Chinese Communist Party. If Mahathir allows him to freely instigate Muslims through the spreading of hate speech, it could inspire and radicalise Muslims launch attacks against China’s interests around the world.
Perhaps both Mahathir and Zakir should try to understand why Kuwait, U.A.E, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar – all wealthiest Muslim nations in the Middle East – supported China. It was not all about kowtow to the world’s second biggest economy. As a communist country, China has zero tolerance towards “Radical Islamic Terrorism”, let alone entertains its separatist sentiment.
Malaysia might be happy that the country is a fertile breeding ground for terrorists. But Saudi and other oil-rich Arab states are also authoritarian states, sharing a common interest as China – political stability as a result of authoritarian rule. In reality, until separatist disturbances began in 1996, China allowed people to ignore the rule prohibiting religious observance by government officials.
Mahathir should be careful what he wishes for. India and China are two biggest buyers of Malaysian palm oil. In 2018, India imported US$5.5 billion worth of the country’s palm oil while China’s purchases were US$3.4 billion. In combination, both nations constituted 28.3% of Malaysian produced palm oil. And Zakir Naik has done a magnificent job screwing bilateral ties with both nations.
– Finance Twitter