Kuala Lumpur: Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has admitted that Malaysia is not keen for the Muslim preacher Zakir Naik to be in the country, but said it is hard-pressed to deport him elsewhere as "many countries" will not accept the controversial preacher.
"So he's here today, but if any country wants to have him, they are welcome," Mahathir said, as demand for Naik's deportation from the Southeast Asian country increased after the preacher questioned the loyalty of Hindus in Malaysia.
Naik in a recent talk had claimed that Hindus in Malaysia are more loyal to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi than their own premier.
Asked about this, Mahathir said: "You can ask them (Hindus) la, why do you ask me? How would I know?", reports Bernama news agency.
Human Resource Minister M. Kula Segaran has called for action against Naik while the National Patriots Association (Patriot) on Wednesday took the preacher to task for questioning the loyalty of Malaysian Hindus to the country and saying China mistreated Uyghur Muslims.
"Malaysians of Indian origin are loyal. They have also contributed tremendously, along with the other ethnic groups, serving in the security forces, defending our King and country. Several officers and men were awarded gallantry medals fighting our nation's enemies.
"Questioning the loyalty of the Malaysian Hindus shows Zakir is ignorant, dishonest and has an ulterior motive and a hidden agenda," Patriot president Datuk Mohamed Arshad Raji said in a statement.He also said that any sensitive issue on the Uyghur Muslims is best left to the Foreign Ministry.
"It is not for Zakir to instigate the uninformed public, and arouse hatred and animosity towards China, especially at a time when Malaysia's relations with China are improving. Furthermore, trade and infrastructure investment are also at stake."Patriot would like to see Zakir Naik shut up now," he said.
Zakir, who was granted permanent resident status by the previous government, is wanted in his home country India for alleged money laundering and has been accused of inciting extremism.
Government of India has made a formal request for the extradition of Naik. In June this year, the External Affairs Ministry said it would "continue to pursue the matter with Malaysia."(UNI)