SUSPECTED ‘TERROR KINGPIN’ ZAKIR NAIK NOW A MALAYSIAN CITIZEN?
KUALA LUMPUR — A report by Indian news outfit Hindustan Times claimed today that controversial televangelist Dr Zakir Naik has been given Malaysian citizenship, complicating investigation on his terror links by Indian authorities.
The report cited unnamed Dr Zakir’s representatives as confirming the matter, claiming that the citizenship had come as a “package” together with his “Tokoh Maal Hijrah” award he received from Malaysia 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 representative told the New Delhi-based Hindustan Times.
Malay Mail Online is in the process of verifying the information with both Malaysian and Indian authorities.
The status of Dr Zakir’s Indian citizenship is also unsure although HindustanTimes claimed that Dr Zakir is holding dual citizenship, as Malaysia does not allow such a thing.
The report claimed the lack of information on Dr Zakir’s current location is a tactic to elude the probe by its National Investigation Agency (NIA).
It also pointed out that the fact that Dr Zakir is purportedly a Malaysian citizen on Malaysian soil would complicate investigation, as Malaysia has not allowed any extradition to India despite signing a treaty in 2010.
Earlier this month, Times of India (TOI) reported the Indian government has imposed a five-year ban on Dr Zakir’s NGO, the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF).
The daily reported that India’s NIA is also mulling terror charges against Dr Zakir, reportedly based on testimonies of about 50 terror suspects and convicts recorded from various jails, with those caught citing the medical doctor as their motivation and source of inspiration.
TOI reported that the republic’s administration had banned IRF with immediate effect beginning Tuesday, labelling the movement as an ‘unlawful organisation’.
The ban was purportedly enforced under India’s Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the decision was said to have been approved in the Indian government’s Cabinet meeting.
TOI said that the ban would now force a shutdown of all IRF offices throughout the country.