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Speeches banned in Malaysia, Zakir questioned again (Lead)

Tuesday - August 20, 2019 11:44 pm , Category : WORLD
Kuala Lumpur, Aug 20 (IANS) Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, living in Malaysia for the past three years after fleeing India, has been barred from delivering public talks in every state in Malaysia, even as he faced a second round of questioning by police for his provocative remarks.
Meanwhile, the preacher has apologised for his controversial remarks but maintains that he is not racist, saying that 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 on Tuesday.
Naik said that it has always been his mission to spread peace around the world, but claimed that he faces detractors who try to prevent 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, adding that he was saddened his remarks had caused many non-Muslims to think of him 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 added.
Naik appealed to Malaysians, particularly non-Muslims, to listen to his speeches in its entirety.
"My lectures are on YouTube, Peace TV, and the Peace TV mobile app," he said.
"Last but not the least, I am deeply touched by the hundreds of thousands of people who stood in my support. I would like to express my earnest gratitude to all of you. Jazaak Allaahu Khairan. May Allah reward all of you with the best," he added.
In response, DAP Legal Bureau chairman Ramkarpal Singh said that the fugitive preacher's apology over his alleged racial and religious remarks during a recent lecture in Kelantan does not detract from the fact that he has breached his permanent residence conditions.
"The apology by Dr Zakir Naik is an acknowledgement by him that his speeches, objectively taken, has stirred racial unrest in multiracial Malaysia.
"Dr Zakir may have qualified his said apology by saying that his words were taken out of context but the fact remains that such words have caused unrest," Ramkarpal Singh said in a statement.
He pointed out that as a foreigner, Naik should respect and understand the multicultural environments of Malaysia and should not be allowed to stay in the country if he fails to do so.
Naik, who was granted permanent residency in Malaysia after he left India on being charged with giving inflammatory speeches, has been barred from delivering public talks in every state in Malaysia by the police in the interest of national security.
Royal Malaysia Police corporate communications head Senior Assistant Commissioner Datuk Asmawati Ahmad confirmed this, the star.com reported.
Naik, 54, was questioned by the police for 10 hours during a second round of questioning for making racial remarks.
He was seen leaving the Bukit Aman police headquarters in a Toyota Innova, the Post reported.
CID Director Huzir Mohamed told the Jakarta Post that Naik was being probed under Section 504 of the Penal Code for intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace.
Naik was earlier barred by seven states - Melaka, Johor, Selangor, Penang, Kedah, Perlis and Sarawak - from speaking in public after his incendiary racial remarks.
Malaysia's former police chief Rahim Noor has urged the government to rescind his Permanent Residency status and return him to India.
"Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had commented that the government will consider rescinding his PR status if it is proven that he has committed criminal offences," Noor was quoted as saying.
Naik has been slammed for making racial comments during an August 3 talk. He had said that Hindus in Malaysia get "100 times more rights" than the Muslim minority gets in India, and yet they support the "Prime Minister of India and not the Prime Minister of Malaysia".
Despite facing calls for deportation by multiple parties, Naik called on the Malaysian Chinese to "go back first" as they were the "old guests" of the country.
Malaysia's impatience with Naik also comes days after Malaysian Minister P. Waytha Moorthy, Special envoy of Prime Minister Mahathir, visited India and met Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.

--IANS rak/vd