PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma) has denied providing funds to controversial preacher Dr Zakir Naik.
Presma Bharkath Ali Shahul Hammed said the association is aware of a viral message, and has dismissed it as fake news.
"Although Presma is not mentioned in the message, the association mentioned - Persatuan Restoran Mamak Malaysia (PRMM) - does not exist," he pointed out.
Bharkath Ali also told The Star that the association is not involved in funding Dr Zakir in any way.
"This is fake news. We don't have any stand on Dr Zakir. We are neutral about it," he added.
When asked how the message would affect Indian Muslim restaurants nationwide, Bharkath Ali noted that could impact the eateries.
"I hope people will understand that this is fake news. I don't think many Malaysians will take this seriously and believe it," he said, adding that it is alright to continue dining in the Indian Muslim restaurants.
The association, which aims to help promote and protect Indian Muslim restaurants nationwide, has over 3,500 members.
The message, which has been circulating on social media and WhatApp groups, had called for the boycott of these eateries.
It claimed that the "PRMM has 17,351 restaurants in Malaysia" and the restaurants have been donating over RM170,000 per month to Dr Zakir.
The message added that "spending in this restaurants indirectly everybody helping this India's wanted fugitive. (sic)"
Dr Zakir, who is a permanent resident in Malaysia, has been hogging the headlines recently, with many calling for him to be deported to India.
He is alleged to have made controversial remarks against Malaysian Hindus and Chinese during a talk in Kota Baru on Aug 3.
The Indian-born preacher has been called up twice to Bukit Aman to have his statement recorded.
He has been wanted by Indian authorities since 2016 for alleged money laundering and inciting extremism through hate speeches.