New Delhi: Controversial televangelist Zakir Naik will be extradited from Malaysia to India if New Delhi seeks his extradition, Malaysia’s deputy Prime Minister was cited as saying on Wednesday.
Singapore-based Straits Times said deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on Wednesday told the Malaysian Parliament that India had not requested Naik’s extradition yet, and that Malaysia will go ahead with deportation if requested via the Mutual Legal Assistance programme between the two countries.
The radical Muslim preacher, a permanent resident in Malaysia, is wanted in India on charges of inciting terror and delivering hate speeches. His passport has been revoked by the Indian government.
Naik, 52, and a medical doctor by profession, sparked controversy with his puritanical brand of Islam—recommending the death penalty for homosexuals and those who abandon Islam as their faith. A Reuters report earlier this week said Naik had been given permanent residency in Malaysia.
The Straits Times quoting the Malay Mail Online website said Zahid, who is also Malaysia’s home minister, told the Malaysian Parliament that as yet, there was no application before him from Zakir Naik to become a Malaysian citizen, contrary to news reports.
“Until now, there is no application from Zakir Naik to become a citizen," Zahid was quoted as saying. “If India requests that he be extradited via Mutual Legal Assistance, we will send him. To date, there has been no such request," Zahid said in response to Malaysian MP Gobind Singh’s questions on the subject.
Zakir has denied the accusations against him and has said that he was being targeted by the Indian government because of his popularity, the Straits Times report said. He has a substantial following in Malaysia, with both Dr Zahid and Prime Minister Najib Razak posting photos taken with him last year on Facebook, it said.
The report did not elicit an immediate response from New Delhi.
One official said the Indian government would wait for an official communication on the subject from the Malaysian government rather than depend on news reports. “Nothing has been conveyed to us officially," the official cited above said.
According to the Indian home ministry, the extradition request was yet to be finalised and the ministry will offer comments once the procedure had been finalised.
Briefing reporters last week, Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said India was likely seek Naik’s extradition from Malaysia in the coming weeks.
“In any formal request where we are seeking the assistance of any foreign government in cases of extradition, it requires a legal process internally first," Kumar said on Friday when asked if India would be seeking Naik’s extradition.
“At this stage, I can share with you that we are nearing the completion of this exercise and once this exercise is complete, we will make a request to the Malaysian government on this matter," Kumar said.