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Wednesday 19 February 2020

Zakir Naik’s extradition from Malaysia: Fake news

A source in the MEA said that ABP News read too much into the statements from the MEA and 'concocted' the story of Zakir Naik's extradition from Malaysia

New Delhi: Earlier this month, ABP News broadcast a sensational story that Islamic televangelist Zakir Naik, wanted in this country on several counts of crime, had been extradited from Malaysia to India. The ‘news’ has turned out to be fake.

When last heard, the maximum harm done to Zakir Naik was a closure of his indoctrinating Peace TV in Britain for spreading homophobia using the vehicle of Islamic preachings.

As far as Zakir Naik’s activities in Malaysia are concerned, he or his business stays unaffected. He is, in fact, enjoying state hospitality at the expense of the government of that country turning unpopular among the citizens due to the fact that Malaysians, by and large, follow a moderate path of Islam that is not in sync with Naik’s extreme interpretations of the Qur’an, the Ahadith and the Shari’ah.

“HangTuahPJ”, a social media user in Kuala Lumpur has been quoted in a Malaysian news medium as saying, “When Mahathir told controversial Islamic preacher Zakir to watch his words, the Indian national outsourced his preaching through Malaysian converts Mohammad Zamri Vinoth and Firdaus.”

Outsourcing is clearly a ploy to avoid legal trouble for Zakir Naik in the country that now hosts him.

“Idiocracy”, another user, asked, “What can a student of Zakir offer to our school children that is so motivational?” He is disturbed by the fact that “not only we allowed Zakir to stay, but we are also now allowing him to start a franchise of his talks.”

The medium Malaysiakini has published articles against Mahathir Mohamad for defending Zakir Naik.

The Malaysian Insight reports, “At the end of the month, an Indian court will issue a warrant of arrest for controversial Muslim preacher, Dr Zakir Naik, if he fails to appear in person to face a money-laundering charge. But safe in Malaysia, the warrant is far from Zakir’s mind as he prepares for a round of preaching in Kelantan early next month.”

The Malaysia Chronicle opines, “As long as Mahathir is PM, Malaysia can only take one step forward two steps backwards. The price for harbouring Zakir Naik — India may hike tariff on palm oil from Malaysia to 50% from 45%,” while counting all the cases against him that Indian agencies are fighting in courts.

As for extradition, India has been pressuring Malaysia since last year to despatch controversial preacher Zakir Naik. The Ministry of External Affairs calls the process “under consultation”. More than 10 days ago, around the time that ABP News ran the fake news, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar had said “We have asked them to expedite the process. We have been told that it is under consultation and it is a process that will take time.” A source in the MEA said that the named Indian private television channel read too much into the statements from the ministry and “concocted” the story.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had submitted the charge sheet against Zakir Naik for his alleged role in terror funding and money laundering cases in the country in October 2017.

In July 2018, minutes after reports claimed that controversial preacher Zakir Naik was being extradited to India from Malaysia in a major diplomatic win for the government at the Centre, he denied the news and termed it “baseless”.

In April this year, India did request the Interpol to issue a red corner notice against Zakir Naik. Before that, a non-bailable warrant against him had been secured. However, Malaysian Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin made it clear that his government had received no notice from the Interpol against the Islamic preacher. Yassin said there is not even a United Nations Security Council Resolution against Zakir Naik as a suspected terrorist.

The charges against Zakir Naik include that of money-laundering worth more than Rs 193 crore from illegal sources. As of now, Prime Minister Mohamad is sticking to the position that Malaysia has the right to not extradite Zakir Naik as it fears “he is not going to be accorded justice”. Mohamad compares the situation with “Australia’s decision not to send Sirul Azhar Umar, a former bodyguard sentenced to death in 2015 for the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu, back to Malaysia”, reported The Sun Daily.

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