MUMBAI: Controversial preacher Zakir Naik has reiterated that he has not been given Malaysian citizenship.
Earlier, it was reported that his spokesman, Arif Malik, had denied it in a statement but now Zakir himself has issued a statement denying he has Malaysian citizenship.
Zakir said: “The media (in India) has repeated hundreds of times in the last four months that I was banned in Malaysia. Now it does a somersault and says that I have been given the citizenship of Malaysia.
“How can a person who is banned in a country be given a passport of that country. Both these reports are absolutely false.”
His statement was sent through his spokesperson, according to a report in the Times of India (TOI) today.
Zakir said in the statement that he was a non-resident Indian, but did not reveal where he was staying at present.
The Hindustan Times had on Sunday reported that Zakir, whose Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) has been banned in India, was said to have been given Malaysian citizenship.
It quoted “people representing Zakir in his absence in Mumbai” as confirming the citizenship came as part of the package when Zakir was awarded the Tokoh Ma’al Hijrah by Putrajaya in 2013.
The TOI report said that a person claiming to be an employee of IRF called in last week and, without revealing his name, said that Zakir might have shifted his base to Malaysia.
On Nov 27, TOI reported that some senior Muslim clerics had criticised Zakir for alleged misuse of Zakat money.
Zakir said, in the same statement: “All the money received by IRF is not from Zakat… all donations and Zakat received are utilised appropriately as per the rule of Islamic law.”
He also denied reports that the IRF had funded a youth from Rajasthan who is believed to have joined the banned Islamic State terror group.
Zakir is under investigation in India for spreading communal hatred and glorifying terrorism.
Bangladesh had, in August, banned the broadcast of Zakir’s speeches on television.
This followed investigations which revealed that his speeches had inspired terrorists involved in the July 1 Dhaka cafe massacre in which 22 persons were killed. -FMT