Islamic preacher Zakir Naik (File Photo)
Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, who has been at the centre of a religious controversy for the last few days, on Tuesday apologised to Malaysians for making racist comments against them early this month. Naik's apology came after he was grilled by the Malaysian Police for the first time on Friday and then again on Monday, in a session which lasted about 10 hours at the police headquarters.
The official Bernama news agency reported that Naik, wanted by Indian authorities since 2016 for alleged money laundering and inciting extremism through hate speeches, issued an apology for the hurt caused by his controversial remarks against Malaysian Hindus and Chinese during a talk on August 8.
In his apology, Naik, said that it was never his intention to upset any individual or community and hoped Malaysians would not harbour ill feelings towards him. "Even though I have clarified myself, I feel I owe an apology to everyone who feels hurt because of this misunderstanding. 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.
Zakir, however, maintained his claim that he was accused of causing racial discord in Malaysia and his detractors have been using selectively sentences taken out of context from his speeches and adding strange fabrications to them. The 53-year-old radical preacher, in his contentious speeches against Hindus, questioned their loyalty to the country and took a jibe at the Chinese community as "old guests" in Malaysia.
Last week, Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad said that the radical Indian televangelist is prohibited from participating in political activities in Malaysia, which granted him permanent residency in 2016. The radical Indian televangelist was also banned from making public statements in the Malaysian states of Johor, Selangor, Penang, Kedah, Sarawak and Melaka.
Malaysian police said they have received over 100 complaints from the public over remarks he made against Malaysian Indians and Chinese. About 60 per cent of Malaysia's 32 million population are Muslims. Malaysia is also home to a sizable ethnic Indian and Chinese communities.