Zakir Naik willing to cooperate with India if on 'neutral ground'

Muzliza Mustafa

CONTROVERSIAL scholar Dr Zakir Naik today ruled out returning to India where he is wanted for allegedly spreading terrorism propaganda, challenging India to question him in neutral territory.

He said he was willing to cooperate with India National Investigation Authority (NIA) in its probe against him if the questioning is at a “neutral ground”.

“They can interview me on Skype or video conferencing but they said no, I need to return home. But why should I do that? If I go there they will torture me. They have done that to other Muslims. I’ve got proof,” said Zakir after a function in Kuala Lumpur today.

He said NIA’s refusal to accept his proposal showed that the authority had ulterior motives.

“Such a cowardly investigation, they have got no guts. If they want they can come here to talk, if you want face-to-face then come over to talk, come to the neutral ground,” said Zakir.

Zakir was at a meet-up session with 150 Muslim scholars at University Malaya Alumni House here where he gave a talk on Islamophobia.

Times of India news portal yesterday said NIA has decided to seek Interpol’s help to list Zakir under a red notice to curb his movements outside of Saudi Arabia where he is currently based if he fails to turn up by tomorrow.

According to the report, Zakir fled India after investigations were launched against him and his organisation, Islamic Research Foundation, for terror propaganda.

The report said the agency wants to restrict Zakir’s movement which will empower Interpol and Saudi Arabian authorities to arrest him.

The red notice will be acquired once the non-bailable warrant against Zakir is procured.

At today’s function, Malay rights group Perkasa awarded Zakir a gallantry award for his work in promoting Islam and peace.

Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali presented Zakir with the Bintang Pahlawan Pribumi Perkasa Negara or Perkasa Gallantry Award.

Ibrahim said the award carried no monetary rewards but was meaningful and significant as it served to recognise Zakir’s “ceaseless effort, mission and endeavours for Islam”.

The award was also to reaffirm Perkasa’s efforts to safeguard the Federal Constitution, uphold the rule of law, and protect Malaysia’s religious harmony and racial unity.

“This is why Perkasa has thousands of Muslims and a number of Christian Pribumis in Sabah and Sarawak as members,” Ibrahim said.

The Perkasa president, who was barred from entering Sarawak in 2014, last month applied to be a party in a suit filed by 19 human rights activists seeking Zakir’s arrest and deportation from Malaysia.

Media reports quoted Ibrahim as saying the case affected the “rights and interests of Muslims to hear and obtain knowledge directly through the talks and sermons presented by Dr Zakir Naik”.

Referring to today’s meet-and-greet session with Zakir. Ibrahim said this was the first time Zakir has accepted an invitation from a group such as his.

“The meeting is a symbol of Perkasa’s unending struggle for Malaysia. It is also a symbol of Zakir’s recognition of our mission to preserve peace and harmony for all Malaysians, irrespective of race and religion.”

Ibrahim also advised all groups to stop politicising RUU355 – the private member’s bill tabled by PAS president and Marang MP Abdul Hadi Awang to amend the Shariah Court (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965.

Ibrahim said: “To all Muslims in Malaysia, regardless of party, if you are really and are truly Muslims, let us unite on all matters related to Islam.” – April 16, 2017.

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