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Dr Zakir Naik
Dr Zakir Naik
DAILYNEWS COMMENT | Wisdom is needed in governing a nation, but sadly there seems a lapse where Dr Zakir Naik is concerned.
It was a mistake to let the preacher enter Malaysia, and a greater mistake to grant him a permanent residency. It would be the worst mistake to let him remain in Malaysia. We know about ticking racial and religious time bombs.
Harmony is the theme of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Sultan Nazrin of Perak's concerns in recent speeches.
Why? Because Malaysia is grappling with the challenge from its own extremists tearing at the seams of communal harmony. So how would having a controversial foreigner like Zakir in the country help?
A man compelled to speak will never stay silent, ban or no ban. Why risk it and bring potential disharmony upon the nation? After all, Zakir is known for controversy. He has brought the problems upon his head not only by what he said but how he said it.
Now the Pakatan Harapan government has to redeem past mistakes that have deprecated Malaysia's global image, not make it worse.
Zakir is banned in many countries which treat him like an outcast. That Singapore has not allowed him into the country was an alarm that should have sounded for Malaysia.
Turning the clock back to 1987, Dr Mahathir Mohamad jailed more than 100 Malaysians, some of whom were accused of causing racial tension in the country.
Regrettably, while exhibiting his disappointment and confirming that Zakir had violated the conditions for his PR by touching on "racial politics," he has delegated action to the police, conveniently passing the buck.
Since he was the one who gave so much face to Zakir and put him on a pedestal, parading with him in public, should he not be the first to say, "out with Zakir'" and cancel his PR?
As the proverb says, "Drive out the mocker and there will be peace." Instead, he says, Zakir can stay. Is that not a double standard a questionable backdown?
Mahathir risks raising the ire of those who think he is backsliding to his old ways. You only need to tap into what people are saying about him these days. 
Not long ago he was the man of the hour. Today he is the villain to more detractors.
It was his Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (photo), however, who took the lead instead. Kudos to others who asked for Zakir to be deported.
I can't envisage any benefit for a nation to have someone like Zakir in the country. Are there no qualified local Muslims to teach others?
I think it is reasonable for the spiritually hungry to seek out those who can enrich their faith. In doing so they must beware of the charlatan.
Insofar as I have heard his talks touching on Christianity, he does not seem to grasp the faith and misrepresents it. I understand Hindus are also upset. Writer Azly Rahman says Zakir peddles 'half-truths'.
Mahathir introduced the penal code provision on offending the religious sensitivity of others. Why is he not applying the law he created on Zakir? So much talk on the rule of law but no action is not credible leadership.
Malaysia can't afford a lapse in leadership, a criticism once levelled at former premier Najib Abdul Razak.
If he had stuck to his own religion Zakir might only offend those detracting Muslims who disagree with him. But when he strays into other religions and uses their holy books to try to support his claims, he is on sinking sand.
YouTube has many videos of Christians, Hindus and atheists refuting his credibility. Malaysian Chinese and Indians are not the only people he has upset, because giving offence is not new to him.
They criticise him for getting his facts wrong, not for preaching Islam. And he is a fugitive not for preaching Islam per se, but allegedly for money laundering and other terrorism-related charges.
Why would Mahathir support such a man and drag Malaysia into controversy? Aren't there enough unresolved issues on his hands?
Mahathir would not want to give further cause to the politician who asked him to step down recently because of his failure to resolve many issues.
Facing justice
Why not let Zakir face justice, clear his name and be given the respect if he is innocent? Then bring him back when his slate is clean, devoid of allegations of wrongdoing by the Indian government.
Why is he afraid to face his accusers? Why is he hiding behind his acolytes? Why did he run away, a man who invokes the powerful name of Allah?
One YouTube video had noted Naik making 25 mistakes within five minutes of a talk. Don't take my word for it, check out American Christian apologist David Wood illustrating some of Zakir's mistakes.
Many Muslims will be upset with Zakir. But they will not know the truth because they have not been told of the errors.
Wood has other videos refuting Zakir's interpretation of the Bible and instead showed him, in fact, proving the opposite.
Zakir, in his rapid-fire talks, quotes Bible and Quranic verses and delves into science. He is impressive to those of colossal ignorance. But a scrutiny of his talks by those who are learned tells a different story.
He has so far avoided a debate with those who know the Bible and the Quran. It is like Najib  once not turning up to debate Mahathir. And we know why, don't we?
Hero worshipping a human to the extent he or she can do no wrong is idolatry. Ask the fans of the late Michael Jackson and other pop idols. Politician, preacher or pop star – they are fallible.
Consider the late televangelist Jim Bakker. Despite being exposed for his sins and been convicted,  many of his followers refused to abandon him.
And more than 800 followers of cult leader Jim Jones died in blindly trusting in his words. And let's not forget David Koresh and Osama bin Laden and others. Some others like Adolf Hitler used politics to mislead the impressionable.
Exploiting religion
When politicians exploit religion in the popularity stakes, it is wrong. We have all heard of the pied piper of Hamelin. If we dance to the tune of a charmer we end up in disaster if we don't wake up in time. 
 That is why there were prophets that defied the pagan idolaters. They were killed or chased away. Muhammad himself was attacked by the pagan Meccans for telling them they were wrong in the age of Jahiliyyah. 
Ignorant or arrogant leaders cannot stand anyone telling them the truth or that they are wrong. I wonder how Malaysians would feel if Najib is feted in India and given a PR by Prime Minister Narendra Modi?
Would it not be a clear case of double standards in wanting to extradite Malaysian fugitive Low Taek Jho (photo) back to Malaysia while refusing to allow Zakir to be extradited to India?
Somebody has to tell Mahathir he has made a grave mistake in allowing Zakir to stay in Malaysia and not face justice in India.
As he made serious lapses of judgment in anointing Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Najib to succeed him, by his own admission, he is making another colossal mistake. It is in his report card.
It is a joke to talk of national unity or a New Malaysia under the circumstances when you sit on top of a racial and religious tinder box.
It is also a bigger joke to talk of the rule of law if you don't cooperate with a friendly foreign government, which only wants to extradite one of their citizens home to face the law.
Mahathir is wrong. He needs to explain why he is beholden to Zakir, and why having him stay outweighs the risks of more potential trouble for the country and Malaysia's tainted reputation for harbouring a fugitive.
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