Enemies of Islam are targeting me: Zakir Naik
KANGAR: Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, who is wanted in India, has said that he has not broken any law and was being targeted by the “enemies of Islam,” in a rare public speech in Malaysia where he has sought refuge, Naik was quoted by news agency Reuters as having said.
Naik, 53, is facing charges of money laundering and hate speech in India.
Indian authorities last year said that Naik has been “promoting enmity and hatred between different religious groups in the country through public speeches and lectures”.
The controversial Islamic preacher has been living in Malaysia, where he has permanent residency ever since the Indian authorities started investigating him.
However, he has been keeping a low profile over the past year amid criticism that he is a threat to peace in multi-ethnic Malaysia.
Naik said in a late Saturday speech in Kangar, capital of the north Malaysian state of Perlis, that he had never broken any law of the country.
“But because I was spreading peace, I was giving solution for humanity, all the people who don`t like peace to prevail, they don`t like me,” he said, adding he was being targeted because of his work to spread Islam.
“This doesn’t go down (well with) the enemies of Islam. Be it western countries or the country I was born in, India,” he said.
Naik has been controversial because of his puritan brand of Islam – recommending the death penalty for homosexuals and those who abandon Islam as their faith, according to media reports.
In a clip on YouTube, Naik can be seeing saying that if Osama bin Laden “is terrorizing America the terrorist, the biggest terrorist, I am with him”.
Bangladesh suspended a television channel that featured his preachings after media reported that militants who attacked a Dhaka cafe killing 22 people last year were admirers of him.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. Britain banned Naik from entering in 2010.
About 1,000 people turned up for Naik`s speech, along with the state`s chief minister, crown prince and religious officials.
The preacher was known to be close to officials in the previous Malaysian administration, which was unexpectedly defeated in a May general election.
New Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in July said as long as Naik was not creating any problems in Malaysia, he would not be deported.
According to media reports, the Indian authorities have sought his extradition.
In Kangar, Naik described himself as a fundamentalist for following the fundamental teachings of Islam.
“I am proud to be a fundamentalist Muslim,” he said
A doctor by training, Naik will be delivering more lectures at universities and a mosque on the speaking tour. His wife, Farhat Naik, will address women in separate speeches.