Dr Zakir Naik has been confirmed as one of the guests to a regional conference for Muslim scholars organised by Islamist party PAS in Kota Baru, Kelantan later this month.
The organisers said it is aware of the controversy surrounding the Indian national who is currently on the run from authorities in his home country, but the conference called International Assembly of Ummah Unity will stay away from any such polemics.
“Among those who have confirmed their attendance is Dr Zakir Naik. Among the special guests that we have invited this year,” PAS deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said in a press conference yesterday.
“The issue of Zakir Naik is not an issue of conflict. But it is his personal issue, with others who do not agree with him,” Tuan Ibrahim said.
“We take in the context of how the he plays his role in evangelism, how he can contribute in that aspect.”
The 51-year-old medical doctor by training has been visiting Malaysia and Saudi Arabia frequently after leaving India where he is wanted for money laundering and terrorism investigations.
Dr Zakir was conferred honorary membership in Malay rights organisation Perkasa on April 16.
He is also a central figure in a March 1 civil lawsuit filed by 19 Malaysian human rights activists against the federal government, which it accused of failing to protect the country from Dr Zakir whom they claim to be a security threat.
Tuan Ibrahim said the conference will see participation from representatives of 23 countries including Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Sudan, Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Laos.
Other guests will include International Union of Muslim Scholars assistant secretary-general Sheikh Ghafar Abdul Aziz from Pakistan, Dewan Da’wah Islamiyah Indonesia’s de facto leader Mohammad Siddik, and Jamaat-e-Islami Hind’s vice-president Sadat Husani from India.
The conference will be held in the Sultan Muhammad IV Stadium in Kota Baru between July 20 and 22.