KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia will send controversial televangelist Zakir Naik back to India if its government requests his extradition, said Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi yesterday.
The Muslim preacher from India is a permanent resident in Malaysia, and is believed to be in the country.
Late last month, he was charged by India's National Investigation Agency with inciting terror and delivering hate speeches.
According to the Malay Mail Online, Datuk Seri Zahid, who is also Home Minister, told Parliament that India had not requested extradition yet, but Putrajaya will go ahead with deportation if requested via the Mutual Legal Assistance programme between the two governments.
He added that there is as yet no application from Zakir to become a Malaysian citizen, contrary to earlier reports in the Indian media.
His international passport has been revoked by the Indian government.
Zakir, 52, is accused of inciting youth to take up terror acts and join terror outfits such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
He has reportedly recommended the death penalty for homosexuals and those who abandon Islam as their faith.
A YouTube video shows him saying that if Osama bin Laden "is terrorising America the terrorist, the biggest terrorist, I am with him".
Zakir has denied the accusations against him and has claimed that he was being targeted by India's Hindu nationalist government because of his popularity.
The preacher has a substantial following in Malaysia, with both Mr Zahid and Prime Minister Najib Razak posting photos taken with him last year on Facebook.
Opposition Parti Islam SeMalaysia had previously urged the government to disregard any potential Indian extradition request, saying that the allegations aim "to block his influence and efforts to spread religious awareness among the international community".
Mr Zahid had told Parliament on Oct 31 that Zakir had not broken any laws or regulations during his stay in Malaysia.
"As such, there is no reason from a legal standpoint to detain or arrest him," he said.
Mr Zahid assured lawmakers yesterday that the government would continue to monitor Zakir's activities in the country and would take action if he got involved in any terrorist activities, reported The Star.