Malaysian authorities will summon controversial preacher Zakir Naik for questioning after he allegedly made racially sensitive remarks in the multi-ethnic nation, the government said on Thursday.
The move comes after several ministers demanded Naik's expulsion after he said Hindus in Malaysia had '100 times more rights than the Muslim minority in India.
Zakir Naik, who has been in Malaysia for three years and faces charges of money laundering and hate speech in India, has come under fire for comments allegedly pitting the country's ethnic and religious minorities against the Malay majority, who are predominantly Muslim.
Police will question Zakir Naik and several other individuals and groups for making 'racially-tinged statements' and for spreading false news that has affected public sensitivities, the Home Minister, Mr. Muhyiddin Yassin, said.
'I would like to remind all parties, including non-citizens, that enforcement agencies under my ministry will not think twice to take legal action against anyone who attempts to threaten public harmony and peace,' he said in a statement.
Asked for comment, a representative for Zakir Naik said he would first need to study the minister's statement. Race and religion are sensitive issues in Malaysia, where Malay Muslims make up about 60 percent of a population of 32 million.
The rest are mostly ethnic Chinese and Indians, most of whom are Hindus.
Zakir Naik, who has repeatedly denied the charges against him in India, has said his detractors were quoting him out of context to malign him.
The Bernama agency quoted the Malaysian Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, as saying this week that the controversial preacher cannot be sent back to India because of fears for his safety.