A day after being questioned by Malaysian police for hours over his racially sensitive remarks against Hindus and Chinese, controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik on Tuesday apologised to non-Muslims for the comments.
Naik, who is facing charges of inciting communal disharmony and committing unlawful activities in India, has come under fire over his provocative remarks against Hindus and Chinese residing in Muslim-majority nation.
The Malaysian police called Naik in to record his statement last Friday and on Monday over his alleged remarks earlier this month in which he had asked the Malaysian Chinese to "go back" first as they were the "old guests" of the country.
His speech at the same venue was also condemned by many parties after he compared the Hindus in Malaysia with Muslims in India, saying that the Hindus here enjoyed more than 100 per cent rights as compared to Muslims in India.
Naik, who has lived in Malaysia for about three years, apologised for his remarks on Tuesday but insisted that he was not a racist. He was quoted as saying that his detractors had taken his remarks out of context and added "strange fabrications into them", New Strait Times reported.
"It saddens me that this entire episode had caused many non-Muslims to think of me as a racist. It also worries me because the ones who are hurt had not heard my speeches but had based their impressions on out-of-context quotes of me," he said in a statement.
"Even though I had clarified myself, I feel I owe an apology to everyone who feels hurt because of this misunderstanding," the statement read.
"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 added.
Meanwhile, the police have issued a directive to its state contingents nationwide to bar Zakir from taking part in public talks. The police said that the ban was imposed in the "interest of national security".
Naik is being probed under Section 504 of the Penal Code for the intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace.
In his statement, Naik also stressed that he has always been a man of peace because that's what the Quran stands for. He added that he was against racism and was concerned about the episode as it has brought harm to the image of Islam.
Muslims make up about 60 per cent of its 32 million people in Malaysia. The rest are mostly ethnic Chinese and Indians, most of whom are Hindus.