Several social media users have shared a picture of Islamic televangelist Zakir Naik getting awarded, with the claim that he has been granted citizenship in Malaysia.
However, the image is from 2017 when Naik was bestowed a "warrior" award by Malaysian leader, Ibrahim Ali, and has been shared out of context. There are no news reports of Malaysia granting him citizenship.
Naik has been wanted in India since he was charged by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for "promoting hatred between religions."
The image has been viral since 2017 with claims that Zakir Naik was awarded full citizenship by Malaysia.
An Instagram page which operates under the username "drzakirnaikofficial" uploaded the image in September 2019, and since then it has garnered over 39k likes.
The image has resurfaced on social media in August, 2020 and The Quint, too, received a query on its WhatsApp helpline.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
The image is from 2017 when Ibrahim Ali, a far-right Malaysian political leader, who founded the party Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia, and Malay dominance organisation Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa, awarded Zakir Naik with a 'Warrior Award’.
A reverse image search led us to an article by Malay-language daily newspaper Berita Harian, dated 16 April, 2017, carrying the image.
The article stated that Zakir Naik was awarded the "Perkasa Negara Indigenous Hero Star, the highest award from the Perkasa Malaysia Indigenous Organization." The ceremony was part of the 'Ijtimak 150 Malaysian Islamic Scholars' event at the University of Malaysia for Naik's talk on 'Dealing with Islamophobia.'
The image was credited to English-language Malayasian newspaper New Straits Times Press (NSTP) photographer Mohd Yusni Ariffin.
IS ZAKIR NAIK A MALAYSIAN CITIZEN?
Zakir Naik fled to Malaysia in July 2016 after it was found that the terrorists who attacked the Dhaka cafe were allegedly inspired by his speeches on waging 'jihad'.
A news report by an online news portal, malaysiakini, dated 22 October 2019, states that "there is no record of controversial preacher Dr Zakir Naik having applied for Malaysian citizenship."
The statement was given by Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin. He further added that "the NRD issued a MyPR to Zakir Abdul Karim Naik (more commonly known as Dr Zakir) on 21 April 2016."
The National Registration Department (NRD) of Malaysia issues MyPR cards to permanent residents.
The statement after the controversy Naik stirred with his racial remarks against Chinese in Malaysia, calling them "guests," in his speech at Kota Bahru on 11 August, 2019.
He also suggested that "Indians in Malaysia were more supportive of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi than Malaysian leader Dr Mahathir Mohamad."
The NDTV reported that, according to PM Mahathir, Naik's permanent residence could be taken away.
"“He (Naik) has PR status. We can take that away if he does something that is detrimental to the well-being of the nation. At this moment, the police are investigating if he is doing that or not. If he is doing it, then it is necessary for us to take away his PR status.”" - PM Mahathir
In September 2019, PM Modi met the Malaysian PM on the sidelines of the fifth meeting of the Eastern Economic Forum and discussed Naik's extradition.
"“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.”" - Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale
However, there are no reports of Naik being granted citizenship by the Malaysian government. Evidently, an old picture has been shared out of context.
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