Zakir Naik says sorry for ‘misunderstanding’ after backlash, denies he is racist

Azril Annuar
Zakir Naik denies he is racist, saying he does not want anyone to harbour 'ill feelings' towards him.— Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 20 — Fugitive preacher Dr Zakir Naik apologised today for causing any “misunderstanding” after being questioned twice by the police for his alleged racial and religious remarks during a recent lecture in Kelantan.

The India-born man wanted in his home country for allegedly funding terror activities also said racism is “evil” and denies he is racist as claimed, adding in a statement that he does not want anyone to harbour “ill feelings” towards him.

“Even though I have clarified myself, I feel I owe an apology to everyone who feels hurt because of this misunderstanding. I do not want any of you to harbour ill feelings for me. It was never my intention to upset any individual or community.

“It is against the basic tenets of Islam, and I would like to convey my heartfelt apologies for this misunderstanding,” said Dr Zakir who had allegedly claimed that Hindus in Malaysia were more loyal to India Prime Minister Narendra Modi than to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and told Chinese Malaysians to go back to China.

He appealed to non-Muslim Malaysians to watch his speeches in its entirety.

Previously, Dr Zakir and his supporters claimed his reported remarks during an August 10 lecture in Kota Baru, Kelantan was taken out of context.

However, news portal Malaysiakini has since published Dr Zakir’s transcript in its entirety, including a part where he said the ethnic Chinese were “old guests” in Malaysia who should leave the country before asking him to go.

Over 100 complaints have been filed with the police against Dr Naik who is being investigated for intentional insult to provoke a breach of the peace.

Dr Zakir responded by filing defamation suits against several current and former government figures, including Human Resource Minister .M Kulasegaran, Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P. Ramasamy and former ambassador Datuk Dennis Ignatius, among others.

At the same time, Dr Zakir claims to be “saddened” that the recent incidents had caused non-Muslims to call him a racist.

“It however saddened me that this entire episode has caused many non-Muslims to think of me as a racist. It also worried me because the ones who are hurt have not heard my speeches but based their impressions on out-of-context quotes of me.

“That is a cause of concern for me because it brings harm to the image of Islam and serves to drive people away from it. Racism is an evil, I am staunchly against, as is the Quran, and it is the exact opposite of everything I stand for as an Islamic preacher,” he said.

The preacher, who is facing calls of deportation from all around, was questioned by police in Bukit Aman for 10 hours yesterday.

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir has said that if Dr Zakir is found guilty of playing politics in Malaysia, his permanent residency may be revoked.

The police had also confirmed that Dr Zakir is no longer allowed to speak publicly in the country after half the states in Malaysia had revoked him of the privilege.

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