Support Freedom of Speech for Dr. Zakir Naik

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Dr. Zakir Naik was an unfortunate victim of his words being taken out of context. He's aggressive and, most of all, highly confident when he engages others in debates. Therefore, there’s angry mob constantly watching every word he says, waiting for the chance to pounce upon a few words or sentences that can be seen as offensive. In his videos that we’ve watched, we’ve never seen him advocating violence even once. We don’t think an aggressive debating style qualifies as radicalism.

Threats of sending Dr. Zakir Naik back to India are unwise. We know that he'll face persecution if he’s ever deported back to India. It’s the same as sending him to certain death. We can already see the Indian news media having a field day running him down over his gaffes in Malaysia. He has already apologized for the misunderstanding that he had caused. He’s already been reminded not to say anything about Malaysian politics and race relations. He should be allowed to be productive and beneficial to the society, doing what he does best as an Islamic proselytize.

There will be things that Dr. Zakir Naik says that will not sit well with some people. There will be thoughts and ideas that he puts forth that some will find aggressive and offensive. But, these same words, thoughts, and ideas will also be of value to others who have a different point of view. We believe that there should be no censorship and no curtailing of free speech, regardless of how we feel about it. As long as it’s not a unanimous outrage over definite hate speech, it's unwise to revoke a person’s right to speak.

If Dr. Zakir Naik clearly incites violence in his speech, then law enforcement agencies can take action against him. Until then, we think we should let him go and allow him to speak freely.

If we don’t support others’ right to speak and right to harbor a different opinion, that would mean we ourselves don't deserve such right to speak and right to different (and conflicting) opinions. Supporting free speech doesn't mean supporting only what we like to hear.

Our take is that Dr. Zakir Naik should have his freedoms, he should be given a second chance, and he shouldn't be barred from public speaking. If he squanders this second chance, then the authorities may take action.

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