Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Indian Muslim preacher Zakir Naik has ignited outrage in Malaysiaafter suggesting the expulsion of its ethnic Chinese minorities, even as the country’s cabinet mulls the possibility of cancelling his permanent residency.
On Wednesday, two ministers told Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad at a cabinet meeting that Naik needs to be deported as his speeches were “inflammatory in nature”.
At least four cabinet ministers have called for Naik’s deportation along with other senior politicians.
“We have expressed our position which is that action must be taken and that Zakir Naik should no longer be allowed to remain in Malaysia,” said Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo and Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran in a joint statement.
“The Prime Minister has taken note of our concerns. We leave it to him to consider the position and to decide soonest possible what will be done to deal with the problem,” the statement said.
Sources with knowledge of the cabinet meeting told Al Jazeera that Mahathir said he “will solve the problem”.
“But he gave no details,” the source added.
It was unclear when the cabinet will make a decision on Naik.
Naik, who was granted permanent residency in Malaysia by the previous government, has been living in the country for the last three years.
He drew a huge public outcry for his recent comment that Hindus in the Southeast Asian country had “100 times more rights” than the Muslim minority in India, and that they support the “prime minister of India and not the prime minister of Malaysia”.
Discussions on race and religion, which are sensitive issues in Malaysia, have come to the fore in recent weeks.
Muslims make up about 60 percent of its 32 million people. The rest are mostly ethnic Chinese and Indians, most of whom are Hindus.