Vladivostok: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday met his Malaysian counterpart Mahathir bin Mohamad and raised the issue of extradition of controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, who is wanted in India for fuelling extremism.
Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, addressing a press briefing, said: “Prime Minister Modi raised the issue of Zakir Naik's extradition. Both the parties have decided that our officials will stay in contact regarding the matter and it is an important issue for us.”
Naik has been banned from giving public speeches anywhere in Malaysia after his remarks against Malaysian Hindus. The 53-year-old, who is wanted in India for fuelling extremism, is a controversial figure who labelled the 9/11 terror attacks an "inside job". He fled India three years ago and moved to Muslim-dominated Malaysia, where he was granted permanent residency.
Malaysian police said the ban on him has been imposed in the interest of national security. Datuk Asmawati Ahmad, head of corporate communications.
Naik is alleged to have made controversial remarks against Malaysian Hindus and Malaysian Chinese during a talk in Kota Baru on August 3, prompting calls for him to be deported to India.
Under fire, the preacher apologised for his remarks but insisted that he was not a racist. He said his detractors had taken his comments out of context and added "strange fabrications to them". "It was never my intention to upset any individual or community," he said in a statement on Tuesday.
"It is against the basic tenets of Islam, and I would like to convey my heartfelt apologies for this misunderstanding," Naik said.
Reacting to Naik's controversial comments, Mahathir had said it was "quite clear" that Naik wanted to participate in racial politics. "He is stirring up racial feelings. The police will have to investigate whether it is causing tension; obviously, it is," he said.
Mahathir added that as a permanent resident, Naik was not allowed to participate in politics. "You can preach (religiously). But he wasn't doing that," he said. "He was talking about Chinese going back to China and Indians going back to India. I have never said such things. But he did. That is politics," the annoyed Malaysian prime minister said.
PM Modi met the Malaysian Prime Minister on the sidelines of the fifth meeting of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) held in the Russian Far East Region.
"Meetings continue in Vladivostok. Prime Ministers @chedetofficial and Narendra Modi discuss ways to diversify India-Malaysia cooperation for the benefit of people in both countries. Strengthening ties with an important ASEAN partner," the Prime Minister's Office said in a tweet.
Modi arrived in Russia on Wednesday to participate in the 20th India-Russia annual summit and the EEF. On his arrival, Modi received a guard of honour at Vladivostok International Airport.
The forum focuses on development of business and investment opportunities in the Russian Far East Region, and presents enormous potential for developing close and mutually beneficial cooperation between India and Russia in the region. The EEF is being held in Russia's Far East port city of Vladivostok on September 4-6.