Terror recruiment: ‘Will act against Zakir Naik if proof is given,’ says Anwar Ibrahim

Malaysia will act on “incontrovertible evidence” against Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, said Malaysian leader of the ruling alliance Anwar Ibrahim, but added that no formal evidence had been proferred by India so far. He was speaking to The Hindu in an exclusive interview ahead of his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.
Mr. Ibrahim was released from prison last year after the election of the Pakatan Harapan alliance, led by 93-year-old Mahathir Mohammad and is expected to take over as Prime Minister of Malaysia when Dr. Mohammad steps down.
“[The Naik case] has not been raised with me personally. We do not subscribe to all allegations unless we are furnished with the details. We would need some evidence. Malaysia has been tough on terrorism and if we are given incontrovertible evidence that someone has been involved we would not tolerate it,” Mr. Ibrahim said, adding that the government would not act “purely on a request.”

NIA case

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had first registered a case against Mr. Naik under anti-terror laws in 2016 for allegedly promoting enmity between different religious groups, but he had moved to Malaysia by then, and subsequently received Permanent Residency there. The Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), run by him was banned by the Home Ministry in 2017 after his sermons were believed to have been viewed by terrorists who carried out a terror attack in Dhaka.
In January 2018, the NIA had sent a notice to the previous Malaysian government, and was to follow the letter to the new government with more information, officials said. But the plans were struck a blow after Dr. Mahathir met with Mr. Naik in July 2018 and said publicly that his government would not deport the preacher “as long as he is not creating any problems in Malaysia.”
Speaking about bilateral ties with India, Mr. Ibrahim said that they were well below potential, and Dr. Mahathir’s government wanted to accelerate trade and investment between the two countries.
On Thursday, Mr. Ibrahim will deliver the valedictory address at the Ministry of External Affairs conclave “Raisina Dialogue”, and is expected to speak about regional cooperation amid present-day conflicts.
On Wednesday, Mr. Ibrahim met with Congress president Rahul Gandhi and discussed elections in Malaysia, as well as upcoming general elections in India, as well as avenues for bilateral cooperation.
Mr. Ibrahim told The Hindu that he hoped India would take a more positive leadership role in resolving issues like the Rohingya in Myanmar and Bangladesh and “champion the cause of justice”, but was disappointed that it hadn’t done that so far.
He also said he would support closer strategic and defence ties with India in the future.

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/will-act-against-zakir-naik-if-proof-is-given/article25953988.ece


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