Malaysia has dismissed media reports that controversial Indian preacher Zakir Naik had been granted citizenship by the country, saying it takes decades to become a Malaysian citizen. “We don’t give out (citizenships) automatically unless the person was born in the country to Malaysian parents,” Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said on Sunday, rejecting media reports that the Islamist preacher had been granted citizenship by the country.
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“There are many processes to follow and it takes decades to become a Malaysian citizen. Besides, Naik is not an important religious personality for the Southeast Asia region as we should have our own moderate model of Islam which fits the soft culture of the people here,” Nur was quoted as saying by the Star online.
However, an ethnic Indian NGO, Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF), said Home Minister Zahid Hamidi had denied Naik was given citizenship, but he was silent whether he was given a Permanent Resident status. HINDRAF alleged in a statement that Naik had been provided with immunity and support by the Malaysian government and allowed to continue his preaching that “clearly fostered the spirit of separateness and reinforced prejudice towards the Non-Muslim community in Malaysia.”
Muslim majority Malaysia has a 25 per cent ethnic Chinese who are mostly Buddhists and Christians and eight per cent ethnic Indians, a majority of whom are Hindus. HINDRAF president Wayathamoorthy alleged that thousands of Malaysian Indians still continued to live in a “stateless manner.”
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) in India has charged Naik and banned his organisation Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) under section 153-A of IPC (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), besides various sections of anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.