Malaysian politician accuses Muslim televangelist Zakir Naik of 'racial incitement'

Malaysian politician accuses Muslim televangelist Zakir Naik of 'racial incitement'
A Malaysian politician has reiterated calls for televangelist Zakir Naik to leave the Southeast Asian country, accusing the preacher of inciting racial tensions.
2 min read
12 August, 2019
Zakir Naik has not been back to India since July 2016 [Getty]
A prominent Malaysian politician has accused popular Muslim televangelist Zakir Naik of inciting racial and religious tensions in the Southeast Asian country, calling for a review of his residential status.

Direct Action Party lawmaker Lim Kit Siang said the Indian preacher had portrayed Malaysia's Indian community as being more loyal to India's Hindu nationalist prime minister Narendra Modi than Malaysia's leader.

"Zakir Naik cast baseless aspersions on the Malaysian Indian community who have made great sacrifices and contributions to the building of present-day Malaysia and made a most mischievous and deplorable attempt to create inter-racial and inter-religious tension, misunderstanding and conflict in Malaysia," Lim said in a statement on Monday.

"The Malaysian authorities should act on the most mischievous and irresponsible statement by Zakir Naik."

Lim's comments followed a talk given by Naik over the weekend in the northeastern Malaysian state of Kelantan.

Naik, a televangelist whose interfaith debates propelled him to international popularity, currently lives in Malaysia as a permanent resident on a Saudi passport. He was forced to flee his home country of India after being accused of promoting terrorism and money laundering.

Naik has denied all charges against him and has not returned to India since July 2016.

Now in Malaysia, the preacher has found himself caught amid the country's often tense ethno-religious politics. Issues related to Islam are often seen as used by the country's ethnic Malay majority to assert authority, as well as by their opponents to make thinly-veiled racial attacks.

Lim, a veteran Malaysian politician, has in the past been accused of being both anti-Muslim and anti-Malay, however has denied these accusations.

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