Controversial preacher Zakir Naik apologises, says he isn’t racist, Latest World News - The New Paper

Controversial preacher Zakir Naik apologises, says he isn’t racist

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Police have banned controversial Indian preacher from delivering public talks in every state in Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: Indian preacher Zakir Naik has apologised for his controversial remarks but maintains he is not racist, even as Malaysian police said he has been barred from delivering public talks in every state in Malaysia.

Royal Malaysia Police corporate communications head, Senior Assistant Commissioner Asmawati Ahmad, confirmed the ban, following a leaked circular that was issued to all state-level police chiefs.

"Yes. Such an order has been given to all police contingents, and this was done in the interest of national security and to preserve racial harmony," she said when contacted yesterday.

Mr Zakir, who also faces charges of money laundering and hate speech in India, has come under fire for comments that pitted Malaysia's ethnic and religious minorities against the predominantly Muslim Malay majority.

The preacher, who has lived in Malaysia for about three years and is a permanent resident, was called up by police on Monday and questioned for 10 hours.

He was also questioned for five hours last Friday.

But in his apology, the preacher said his detractors had taken his remarks out of context and added "strange fabrications into them".

"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," he said in a statement yesterday.

Mr Zakir said it has always been his mission to spread peace but lamented that he faces detractors who try to stop him from carrying out his mission.

"As you must have noticed for the past few days, I am being accused of causing racial discord in the country and my detractors have been using selective sentences taken out of context and adding strange fabrications into them," he said.

"...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 added.

Mr Zakir appealed to Malaysians, particularly non-Muslims, to listen to his speeches in its entirety online.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Sunday that Mr Zakir was free to preach about Islam but should not speak about Malaysia's racial politics, state media said. - THE STAR