Law lecturer Shamsher Singh Thind is the latest to wade into the controversy surrounding the status of controversial Muslim preacher Zakir Naik
Among others, the Penang-based lecturer wondered if he would be accorded the privilege of having a cup of coffee with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Shamsher questioned the need for Zakir to be given "VVIP treatment" with regard to the latter's meeting with Mahathir over the weekend.
"He was allowed to meet Mahathir over a cup of coffee? Will I ever get this chance?" he asked
Shamsher also addressed the allegations against Zakir, which ranged from money laundering to inspiring terror-related activities. The preacher has denied these claims.
"Is Zakir a terrorist? Or does he have any link to terrorism? Well, I don't know.
"Personally, I have no problems with him. I even attended his son's lecture at Universiti Sains Malaysia,” he added.
On Zakir's critics accusing him of making hate speeches, Shamsher said this was not the main issue either.
"The issue here is not about his, arguably, offensive speeches.
"The issue here is that he is wanted in his country and Malaysia should not interfere in the administration of justice by protecting him," he pointed out.
"Why are we not returning someone who is wanted in India? Who are we to say India is wrong and Zakir is right?" he asked.
Shamsher (photo) also recalled the case of Hamza Kashgari, a journalist who was wanted in Saudi Arabia for a crime that is punishable with death.
"We sent him back almost immediately. So, why the double standard?" he asked.
Shamsher was commenting on Mahathir's latest remark that Putrajaya would not bow to pressure to deport Zakir despite a request from the Indian government.
Previously, the prime minister said Zakir, who has a Malaysian permanent resident status, can remain in the country provided that he behaves.
Yesterday, Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy reiterated that Putrajaya must respect the extradition treaty inked between Malaysia and India in 2010.
He also questioned what if Penang-born businessman Jho Low sought refuge in India.
“I am sure the Malaysian government would want India to respect the extradition treaty between the two countries,” he said.
Malaysian authorities are seeking to question Jho Low on the 1MDB scandal.
In a statement this morning, Zakir expressed his gratitude for Mahathir's stand and claimed his image had been tarnished by a group of "religious fanatics".
“An unbiased observer would realise that never in my 25 years of lecturing on Islam and peace have I ever promoted terror, in the name of Islam or otherwise.
“In fact, not a single lecture, out of the thousands that I have delivered, has ever received objections from non-Muslims in India until in September 2012, when a group of religious fanatics sought to tarnish my image. My aim has always been to foster communal peace and harmony - the exact opposite of the accusations hurled at me,” he said.