Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Monday said that his country has the right not to extradite controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik to India, since the fugitive evangelist claims he will not get a fair trial back home, according to a media report.
Naik, a 53-year-old radical television preacher, reportedly left India in 2016 and subsequently moved to largely Muslim Malaysia, where he was granted permanent residency.
“Zakir in general feels that he is not going to get a fair trial (in India),” Mahathir was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper.
He compared the situation to Australia refusing to extradite former police commando Sirul Azhar Umar, who was sentenced to death in Malaysia in 2015 for killing a Mongolian model.
“We requested Australia to extradite Sirul and they are afraid we are going to send him to the gallows,” the Prime Minister said.
Naik was booked by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in 2016 based on a National Investigation Agency FIR that was registered under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
The ED last month said that Naik received crores of funds in his and his trusts’ bank accounts from unidentified “well wishers” over the years for his speeches that spread “hatred and incited Muslim youths” to take up terrorism.
The Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), Mumbai-based charity trust promoted and controlled by Naik, “allegedly received funds in the form of donations and zakat (a form of alms giving in Islam) from domestic as well as overseas donors from countries like the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Malaysia among others,” the ED said.