PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Preacher Zakir Naik has apologised for his controversial remarks but maintains that he is not racist even as Malaysian police say he has been barred from delivering public talks in every state in Malaysia.
The Royal Malaysia Police's corporate communications head, Senior Assistant Commissioner Asmawati Ahmad, confirmed the ban, following a leaked circular that was issued to all state-level police chiefs.
"Yes. Such an order has been given to all police contingents, and this was done in the interest of national security and to preserve racial harmony," she said when contacted on Tuesday (Aug 20).
In his apology, the preacher said his detractors had taken his remarks out of context and added "strange fabrications into them".
"Even though I have clarified myself, I feel I owe an apology to everyone who feels hurt because of this misunderstanding. I do not want any of you to harbour ill feelings for me.
"It was never my intention to upset any individual or community. It is against the basic tenets of Islam, and I would like to convey my heartfelt apologies for this misunderstanding," he said in a statement on Tuesday.
Dr Zakir said that it has always been his mission to spread peace around the world, but lamented that he faces detractors who try to prevent him from carrying out his mission.
"As you must have noticed for the past few days, I am being accused of causing racial discord in the country and my detractors have been using selective sentences taken out of context and adding strange fabrications into them," he said, adding that he was saddened his remarks had caused many non-Muslims to think of him as a racist.
"It also worried me because the ones who are hurt have not heard my speeches but based their impressions on out-of-context quotes of me.
"That is a cause of concern for me because it brings harm to the image of Islam and serves to drive people away from it.
"Racism is an evil I am staunchly against, as is the Quran, and it is the exact opposite of everything I stand for as an Islamic preacher," he added.
Dr Zakir appealed to Malaysians, particularly non-Muslims, to listen to his speeches in its entirety.
"My lectures are on YouTube, Peace TV, and the Peace TV mobile app," he said.
He added: "Last but not the least, I am deeply touched by the hundreds of thousands of people who stood in my support. I would like to express my earnest gratitude to all of you. Jazaak Allaahu Khairan. May Allah reward all of you with the best."
On Monday, Dr Zakir was questioned for 10 hours by the police in Bukit Aman under Section 504 of the Penal Code for intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace.
He is being investigated over his racially charged comments made during a lecture in Kota Baru, Kelantan, which had triggered 115 public complaints.
During the lecture, Dr Zakir, who is a permanent resident in Malaysia, said the Malaysian Chinese should "go back" first as they were the "old guests" of the country.
He also claimed the Hindus in Malaysia were more loyal to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi than to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
To date, a total of seven states - Melaka, Johor, Selangor, Penang, Kedah, Perlis and Sarawak - have barred Dr Zakir from holding religious talks.
Dr Zakir is wanted in India over corruption charges but he was not deported, with certain parties saying that the charges were trumped-up.
Tun Dr Mahathir has since admitted that Malaysia was in a Catch-22 situation as Dr Zakir was "an unwelcome guest Malaysia can't send away".