Zakir's here to stay makes a sordid narrative - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, July 01, 2019
Wan Azizah and Zakar Naik
Malaysiakini : “In all times, and all countries, especially in those
countries which are divided within by religious faith, there are always
fanatics who will be well contented to be regarded as martyrs.”― Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers
| It all seems a little dubious. Nearly two weeks ago, Deputy Prime
Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail claimed that “the government has not received any application from India to extradite Zakir". Now, Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah says, "We received the application from the Indian government. I don't remember when.”
let me get this straight. The deputy prime minister of Malaysia says
that the government had not received any application from India for the
extradition of Zakir Naik, while the foreign minister says the
government did receive an application but he does not remember when. How
all this could be just another example of the amateur hour of the
Harapan government but considering how Zakir seems to have wormed his
way into the political apparatus of this country, this may well be just
another example of how Harapan applies rules differently for some
It is disappointing that Malaysia chooses
to keep an alleged money launderer here when we have a former prime
minister charged with money laundering and the 1MDB fiasco, which has
drained this country of billions of ringgit. At a time when the Harapan
government is going around attempting to retrieve stolen money, the
government chooses not to extradite a man who is alleged to have engaged
in financial malfeasance that diverted funds meant for Muslim welfare
for his own use.
Honestly, it does not get any more sordid than
this. Here we have a Muslim preacher accused of diverting funds meant
for Muslims, and the political elite in this country, which has
experience in this kind of financial shenanigans – the Tabung Haji
scandal, for instance – chooses to side with the alleged perpetrator,
instead of standing up for the Muslims he may have cheated. If there is a
message here, it is lost on the political elite of this country.
is a fugitive who claims he cannot get a fair trial in India and so
chooses to remain in this judicial paradise of impartiality. Didn’t Jho
Low make the same argument for not facing the music in this country?
What kind of country is this when, on the one hand, we play the victim
card when it comes to the 1MDB scandal but, on the other, we choose to
protect a man, who is facing money-laundering charges in a foreign
about the fact that this preacher faces money-laundering charges in his
own country, India; what is of paramount importance for this country is
this: Is Zakir a threat to national security?
In my piece arguing that he was, I also noted that I was making an
exception to my free speech stand, because of the new political
realities on the ground. Adherence to principle is not a suicide pact.
wrote: “While Muslim potentates in this country court a firebrand like
Zakir, they unknowingly allow a certain type of Islamic fervour to
spread amongst the disenfranchised. I say unknowingly because there is a
disconnect between the political elite and the security apparatus who
genuinely want to keep the country safe.” However, we
give too much credit to the political apparatus in this country. The rot
of extremism is much deeper than that. Take this heartwarming news
piece about the schoolchildren from Chinese and Islamic schools
attempting to learn about the diversity in Malaysia.
do you think Zakir thinks about this? What has Zakir said about other
religions? What has he said about the purity of Islam? What has he said
about Islamic preachers who do not follow his interpretation of the
Imagine if these Muslim students were to be influenced by
Zakir. What does one walkabout achieve? What do a hundred interactions
achieve in the face of the kind of Islam that Naik preaches?
at one of Zakir’s students, Muhammad Zamri Vinoth Kalimuthu. Think about
his comments during the PAS muktamar (general assembly). He reminds his
audience of religious political operatives and their supporters that
Chinese unity, when it comes to certain issues, is something that
Muslims should emulate.
In other words, he conflates secular
issues (education, for instance) with religious ones and advocates a
Manichean perspective when it comes to racial and religious interactions
in this country. Granted this is something the far right does on a
daily basis, but what separates the far right and foreign actors like
Zakir is the kind of influence he brings to the table.
is enough circumstantial evidence that Zakir’s words have influenced
violence. Of course, he has denied this. There is also enough evidence
that his influence – though through proxies – has seeped into the
religious bureaucracy of this country. In my article on Zamri Vinoth (photo),
I drew attention to the fact that the Selangor Islamic Religious
Department (Jais) had recruited him to carry out courses that would make
it easier for preachers to convert Tamil-speaking Indians, using their language as an entry point.
idea, put forward by Zamri Vinoth's middle-class English-speaking
supporters, that he is misunderstood or that his critics should “debate”
him, reveals a profound disconnect that is even more dangerous for this
country than the politically-motivated radicalism of the far right.
is a dangerous situation we find ourselves in. If Zakir is going around
the country attempting to rehabilitate his image by preaching the kind
of Islam which is considered “moderate” in this country, then there
would be some grounds to keep him here – or at least a rational argument
to be made for giving him sanctuary. But what exactly is his narrative,
beyond claiming victimhood and courting the wealthy elite in this
country? Ultimately, Zakir is a symbol for this country but not in
the way his supporters think. Here is a foreigner using religion to
profit and allegedly looting from coffers meant for the betterment of