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Mahathir: Zakir Naik 'crossed the line' when he touched on racial politics

  • Loh Foon Fong

    The Star / Asia News Network

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia   /   Sun, August 18, 2019   /   07:17 pm
Mahathir: Zakir Naik 'crossed the line' when he touched on racial politics  Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad speaks during a news conference in Putrajaya, Malaysia, July 15, 2019. (Reuters/Lim Huey Teng)

Controversial preacher Zakir Naik overstepped boundaries when he touched on racial politics and stirred racial tension in the country, says Mahathir Mohamad.

The Prime Minister said he was not sure who had given him the permanent residence status but regardless, those holding the status cannot participate in politics.

"Religious teachers can preach but he was not doing that. He was talking about sending Chinese back to China and Indians back to India. That's politics," Mahathir said in a press conference after launching the 62nd International Statistical Institute World Statistics Congress 2019 on Sunday (Aug 18).

Recently, it was reported that Penang, Perlis, Kedah and Sarawak have banned Zakir from speaking publicly in their states.

Dr Mahathir said that the government was careful about how it said things that were sensitive to the different communities in this country.

"I have never said this kind of things. But he tells the Chinese to go back.

"If you want to talk about religion, go ahead, then it is permissible. We don't want to stop him from that. But it is quite clear he wants to participate in racial politics in Malaysia. Now, he is stirring up racial feelings. That is bad," said the Prime Minister.

Because of that,  Mahathir said that the police will have to investigate, whether he is causing tension or not, which in his opinion, he obviously was.

The Prime Minister also said the rule of law will be imposed on Zakir as he is alleged to have preached on racial politics and riled up racial tension.

"Whatever action we take will be in accordance with the law. This government respects the rule of law," he said.

During a religious talk in Kota Baru, Kelantan on Aug 8, Zakir responded to calls for his deportation by saying that the Malaysian Chinese should "go back" first as they were the "old guests" of the country.

Prior to this, Zakir had said Hindus in Malaysia were more loyal to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi than to Mahathir.

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