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Penang Mufti Datuk Seri Dr Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor has urged the people, especially the non-Muslims, to stop accusing controversial Muslim preacher Dr Zakir Naik as being an “extremist” or “slanderer”. -- NSTP Archive

PENANG: Penang Mufti Datuk Seri Dr Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor has urged the people, especially the non-Muslims, to stop accusing controversial Muslim preacher Dr Zakir Naik as being an “extremist” or “slanderer”.

Describing Zakir as someone “very open”, Wan Salim said the former was willing to engage in a dialogue with anyone scientifically and rationally.

“It is because of his excellent grasp in comparing religious knowledge and his arguments in upholding Islamic greatness, he is viewed as enemy by those who can’t face up to him.

“As such, I hope those who have a skewed view towards (Dr) Zakir, could change their attitude towards him and stop accusing him of many things,” he said in a statement today.

Earlier today, Zakir apologised to the non-Muslims for hurting them on his recent remarks, which he said was “taken out of context”.

He said although he had clarified his stance to the police, he felt he owed an apology to everyone who felt hurt because of this “misunderstanding”.

Zakir, who had been accused of causing racial discord in the country, added that he was against racism and was concerned about the episode as it has brought harm to the image of Islam.

Police had called in Zakir to record his statement last Friday and yesterday over his alleged racist remarks.

He is being probed under Section 504 of the Penal Code for intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace.

The preacher, who is a Malaysian permanent resident, is alleged to have made controversial remarks against Malaysian Hindus and Malaysian Chinese during a talk in Kota Baru on Aug 8, prompting calls for him to be deported back to India.

Elaborating, Wan Salim said every Malaysian citizen is aware that Islam is the official religion as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

“In line with this, Islam should be given more space compared to others to be portrayed so that the people fully understand the religion and its teachings through preaching, including to the non-Muslims.

“They should accept the preaching with good intention which is, among others, aimed at getting rid of the phobia and prejudice towards the religion.

“They should also know that Islam does not force anyone to accept the religion as clearly stated in the al-Quran and Hadis,” he added.

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