Kuala Lumpur: A day after the police questioned Zakir Naik for hours over his racially sensitive remarks in Malaysia, the controversial Indian Islamic preacher apologised on Tuesday.
Facing charges of money laundering and hate speech in India, Naik has come under the hatred of several for making comments that pitted Malaysia’s ethnic and religious minorities against the predominantly Muslim Malay majority.
On Monday, Naik was grilled by the Malaysian police for 10 hours about a speech he had made earlier this month.
Naik, in his speech, had said that Hindus in Malaysia had “100 times more rights” compared to the Muslim minority in India, and that the Malaysian Chinese were guests of the country.
In a country like Malaysia, where Muslims make up about 60% of the toal population of 32 million, race and religion is a very sensitive issue. The remaining 30% of the population mostly comprises of ethnic Chinese and Indians, most of whom are Hindus by religion.
Living in Malaysia for about three years, Naik apologised for his remarks he had earlier made. Although he apologised, he kept on insisting that he was not being a racist in his statements. He said his detractors had taken his comments out of context and added “strange fabrications to them”.
“It was never my intention to upset any individual or community,” Naik said in a statement on Tuesday. “It is against the basic tenets of Islam, and I would like to convey my heartfelt apologies for this misunderstanding,” he added.
Naik is a permanent resident of Malaysia. At least seven states have barred him from speaking in public and several ministers have called for his expulsion after the controversial remarks.
On Sunday, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said that Naik was free to preach about Islam but he should not speak about Malaysia’s racial politics.