Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin has challenged Human Resource Minister M Kula Segaran to hold an open dialogue with controversial Muslim preacher Zakir Naik to settle their score once and for all.

"If Kula Segaran is a matured politician, I suggest he hold a dialogue to prove that Zakir had played up racial sentiments.

"Such an approach will be in line with the 'New Malaysia' tagline promoted by Pakatan Harapan, and both sides can also provide their respective views and let the people be the judge," Asri was quoted saying by Sinar Harian, while closing the Malaysia Reverts Camp in Perlis, yesterday.

According to Asri, if the minister can prove that Naik had indeed played up racial sentiments in Malaysia, he will be the "first person" to ask the Indian-born preacher to leave the country.

Last Friday, Naik sent a letter of demand seeking an apology from Kula within 48 hours, after the minister allegedly defamed him in a press statement dated Aug 13. Failure to do so would result in a lawsuit, Zakir had said.

Naik's lawyer Akberdin Abdul Kader said Kula's press statement had implied that Naik was attempting to cause disharmony among Malaysians, and that he did not deserve to be accorded a permanent resident status here.

Naik had also lodged a police report against Kula and four others over the same matter.

In reply, Kula had refused to apologise for his statement and said that he was steadfast in fighting the matter in court.

Naik recently courted backlash after he said in Kelantan that Malaysian Hindus were more loyal to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi than they are to Malaysian premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and critics who are asking him to be deported to India should ask the Chinese, who are also considered "guests" here, to leave first. Naik has since claimed that his recent remarks have been taken out of context.

Naik has been wanted by Indian authorities since 2016 for alleged money laundering and inciting extremism through hate speeches.

He is expected to resume giving his statement to the police today, under Section 504 of the Penal Code for intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace, after a first round of grilling last Friday.

Mahathir recently said that Naik had overstepped his boundaries as a holder of the permanent resident status, by touching on racial politics and stirring racial tension in the country.

Source: Sinar Harian, Malaysiakini, The Star.
Photo source: Sinar Harian, Malaysiakini, The Star.