To ban or not to ban Zakir

KOTA KINABALU: The state is waiting for the reports from religious bodies and departments on whether the controversial preacher Dr Zakir Naik’s views can cause disharmony among Sabahans.

“Following the reviews, we will decide to ban or not to ban Zakir from entering Sabah,” Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal said at the Sutera Harbour Resort National Day programme here.

He said everyone had the right to propagate their religion but it has to be done without criticising or talking down on others’ beliefs.

He said recently, in the last state assembly, they passed a motion to introduce a new law where people should use a more moderate approach on how Islam is to be taught and spread.

“You can’t force people to believe what you believe in. Don’t belittle other people and don’t smear and belittle other religions,” said Shafie.

In Petaling Jaya, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang called on the authorities, political parties, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), media and Zakir to respect the democratic space to debate and have dialogues, multiracial unity and safety.

“All parties must be ready to face and have dialogues in a scientific (ilmiah) and wise (berhikmah) manner in order to find the ‘truth and togetherness’.

He said RTM and the respective state governments should also give room for such dialogues to be held, like how Kelantan had allowed Zakir to deliver his talks.

Abdul Hadi in his Facebook posting also mentioned multiracial unity must be upheld.

The Bachok lawmaker also suggested that investigations must be carried out on political leaders and media practitioners who were responsible for provoking racial and religious tension.

“Thirdly, the guarantee for safety also needs to be taken care of, without looking at race and religion,” he added.

Abdul Hadi said the permanent residence status given to Zakir was a basic human right.

“The right to safety is also a guarantee against anyone whose well-being is being threatened, even against non-Muslims.

“Government and agencies under the Home Ministry must be stern in giving this guarantee,” 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.

Zakir also said that the Hindus in Malaysia were more loyal to Indian prime minister Narendra Modi than to Dr Mahathir.

Several states, such as Johor, Selangor, Penang, Kedah, Perlis and Sarawak have decided to ban Zakir from public speaking. Sarawak has also banned him from entering the state.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that Zakir had overstepped the boundaries of Malaysia’s multicultural and multireligious environment with his public comments on race and politics.

More than 100 police reports have been lodged against Zakir, who was granted Malaysian PR in 2015.
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Sabah , Zakir Naik


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