PETALING JAYA: Controversial Muslim preacher Dr Zakir Naik has not been given Malaysian citizenship, said Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed (pic).
"We do not give citizenship automatically unless the person is born in the country to Malaysian parents," said Nur Jazlan in a message to The Star Online.
He added that he did not think that Dr Zakir would want to apply to be a naturalised Malaysian citizen.
"Dr Zakir is not an important religious personality for the Southeast Asia region as we should have our own moderate model of Islam which fits the soft culture of the people here. He is more Indian and South Asia-centric but some of his ideas can be used here; that's why he was awarded the Tokoh Maal Hijrah award," said Nur Jazlan on Sunday.
It was reported by the Hindustan Times in India that Dr Zakir had been given Malaysian citizenship
The report alleged that Dr Zakir was hiding in Malaysia after his Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) was banned by Indian authorities.
It quoted one of Dr Zakir's representatives as confirming the development, saying that the Malaysian citizenship was offered as a package deal to the Muslim preacher when he was awarded the Tokoh Maal Hijrah award back in 2013.
"It is the state policy of Malaysia to offer citizenship to the awardees of the highest civilian honour of their land. Naik is now a Malaysian citizen too," the Hindustan Times quoted the unnamed representative as saying.
Dr Zakir was earlier suspected by authorities of being either in Thailand or Africa.
Asked whether action would be taken against the Hindustan Times over the article, Nur Jazlan said that no action would be taken against the paper.
"The Hindustan Times is a foreign newspaper and it is not circulated in Malaysia," he said.