Published:  12:54 AM, 06 November 2017

Zakir Naik in Malaysia

Zakir Naik in Malaysia

It is very disturbing to know that Islamic hate preacher and rabid religious fanatic Zakir Naik is now in Malaysia . Why is he relocated in South East Asia and at this point of time ? Saudi Arabia , with its staunch Wahabi ideology , has always been supporting Islamic extremists with moral and material support and importantly Riyadh has been shifting abettors of ultra Islam to other safe locations instead of harbouring them on the Saudi turf .

This is quite obviously to keep its own theatre of fundamentalist and terror linked activities, detrimental to global security interests ,  far away from its home ground . Yet , sponsoring activities from a third location like a proxy driven psychological warfare . One must remember Osama Bin Laden was not sheltered in Saudia by a sheer calculated design and was subtly shunted off to other locations . Yet , he continued to receive all kind of support from Saudi Arabia in promotion of Islamic fundamentalism and terror related activities .

It would appear from these developments , Saudi Arabia and affiliates would like to use Islamic countries like Malaysia and Indonesia as the new hub of terrorist activities with a well crafted and sinister strategy to use such vulnerable Islamic countries to propagate a radical form of Islam , indoctrinating  the moderates to try and convert the country to an extremist State.

The timing is also perfect and well thought out from the Saudi grand plans tailored to   Zakir Naik's line of thinking . Islamic State ( IS) is on its way out relegating the dream of a Caliphate as a mere utopian concept , particularly after the fall of Raqa and Mosul. Militarily , IS is seeing an imminent defeat or a complete rout .

IS supporters and likes of Zakir Naik are making a last ditch effort to keep the IS ideology alive . And precisely , therefore, they will choose softer and those countries practising moderate Islam as the fresh targets to thrive upon . Malaysia ,reeling under severe pressure of the local Islamic ultras , not only accepted to grant refuge to Zakir Naik but has immediately granted him permanent residency . It's , therefore , evident that all plans are working with surgical precision as part of a blue print whose die is cast possibly  in Saudi Arabia .

Although the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia , Ahmad Zahid - Hamidul disclosed recently in the Kuala Lumpur Parliament that Zakir Naik is not being given any preferential treatment in Malaysia , his statement is far from truth and reality .  Zakir is receiving VIP type treatment by all and sundry . He is moving around with an armed body guard and is offering his ' namaz' in the most privileged mosque - Putra Masjid . In effect , his visit to this elite mosque is sending signals to  thousands of Malaysians demonstrating how important Zakir Naik is!

Senior officials in KL were seen embracing Naik treating him like a hero and social media is full of photos and news covering this rabid zealot . Photograph with Malaysian PM and Zakir Naik also adorns the Facebook . Zakir has already drawn huge mileage for his cause by being in Malaysia . He must be substantially accounted for before it's too late .

Also, there is a sizeable Indian population including many Muslims in Malaysia , who will remain vulnerable to Zakir Naik's inimitable style of rhetoric,  combined with acrimonious hate speech , strengthening communal forces currently being encouraged with the presence of Zakir Naik .

A silver lining , however , is visible with a group of Malaysian activists filing a law suit in the Malaysian court pleading deportation of Naik describing him as a threat to public peace in a multi racial country like Malaysia . Civil Rights groups and local Intelligentsia must support these activists and create a favourable public opinion against Zakir so that people in general start despising him intensely for trying to divide the Malaysian society on communal lines spreading hatred .  

This is more imperative calling for an effective counter narrative  as Malaysia's principal opposition party PAS , which is openly supportive of Zakir , has appealed to the government to ignore any potential move by the Indian government to initiate extradition proceedings against Zakir Naik . They argue that allegations against Zakir are to contain his influence and efforts to spread religious awareness among the international community . 

Another significant implication of Zakir's relocation in Malaysia is the profound impact it is likely to have in Southern Thailand . This region has remained communally volatile and buoyant with turbulent Islamic terrorist activities . Malaysia , being in the closest possible proximity of Southern Thailand , the separatist Islamic forces will get a definite boost from Zakir through his fervent and passionate speeches. Places like Suratthani , Hat Yai , Narathiwat , Songkran , Pattani etc need special attention .

Thailand would do well in tightening its border control by not only not allowing Zakir Naik to visit and address at these places but also try to stop smuggling of  inflammatory literature, inspired by Zakir , emanating  from Malaysia and eventually getting their way to these places .

Further , Singapore is known for its tough counter terror measures but presence of Zakir Naik in the immediate neighbourhood may embolden Muslims in Singapore to listen to Zakir and get allured by his oration . Given the professionalism of the government of Singapore , it is expected that they have toned up their intelligence and taking all possible measures to preempt any untoward development .

On India's part , it would be desirable if India continues to press for Zakir's extradition at the earliest , takes Singapore , Thailand and other ASEAN countries on board to mount pressure on Malaysia to expel him from its soil in the largest interest of peace . Indian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur must be extra active in collection of hard intelligence on Naik and his activities,  not compatible to Indian security interests .

In addition to the above , good offices of Commonwealth Secretariat  must also be used to prevail upon Malaysia to return Zakir Naik to India without any further delay  to face criminal and seditious charges . Measures to contain and prevent terror in the region is urgently called for and unless all stake holders pitch in thus challenge , results could be disastrous and devastating .  (The views are personal )

The writer is a retired police officer and a security analyst.

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