Controversy Erupts Over A University Exam Question About Zakir Naik's Public Speaking Ban
A public university exam question describing controversial preacher Zakir Naik as an "icon of the Islamic world" has sparked heated debates on the Internet
The issue was brought to the public's attention by MIC vice-chief Sivarraajh Chandran, who shared the screenshot of the question on Facebook last Sunday, 29 December
At the time of writing, the post has garnered over 1,600 shares and 3,000 comments.
The bi-lingual question reads: "Zakir Naik is one of the icons of the Islamic world, he is very active in spreading true Islam and following the Quran and Sunnah of Rasulullah SAW. He is able to reason and to answer every question that is asked to [sic] him. However, in Malaysia, he is no longer allowed to deliver his preaching [sic]. In your opinion, as a Malaysian, why does this happen?"
Students are allowed to choose more than one answer with these reasons:
i. Malaysians do not bother to receive information.
ii. Malaysians were sensitive and feel threatened for no reason.
iii. Malaysians just follow the crowd without verifying any information.
iv. Malaysians are ignorant about their own religion.
Sivarraajh said that the question came from Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP) for its Ethnic Relations Course examination paper
"I do not understand why a question like this which does not respect racial sensitivity is included in an examination, especially when the subject is supposed to foster an understanding of different races and religions," Sivarraajh wrote in the caption.
"I hope the UniMAP administration will come forward to confirm and clarify this matter."
According to The Star, the paper was held on Sunday, 29 December.
Thousands of netizens have flocked to the comment section to criticise the university, while others have defended it and Zakir Naik
"By the way, what is the correct answer? This is like a bonus question, no right or wrong also [sic]. How stupid for a university to set a multiple-choice question like this. Who moderated this paper? " a netizen commented.
Another Facebook user wrote, "The question has nothing to do with the subject. The moderator should have questioned the choice made [sic]. Yes, I think students should bring it up at the Student Council meeting or ask the Head of Department about it."
"You all do not have to be triggered. This question is based on facts and speeches from DZN (Zakir Naik)," a netizen commented, defending the university.
"All of which are based on facts from the Quran and other religious scriptures. I am a proud UniMAPian and salute to Dr Mizan who teaches the Ethnic Relations Course."
Another said, "It seems strange to me. Many people challenge and ask (Zakir Naik) questions. All or most of them could not win him in an argument. I urge Indians in Malaysia to gather more than 10,000 people and have an argument with him live. We will see what the truth is."
After the issue went viral, UniMAP announced it has launched an investigation into the matter
The university said it views the matter seriously as its students come from multi-cultural backgrounds, reported Malaysiakini.
"UniMAP will also review its vetting process for this course to ensure that lecturers are more sensitive towards ethnic and religious sensitivities," the institution said.
"For now, the university urges the public to not cause provocations... and give room for the university to conduct a thorough investigation."
UniMAP added an official statement will be made once the investigation is completed.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has distanced itself from the controversy on grounds that public universities are given "autonomy with accountability"
"We will not interfere in the conduct of academic programmes as we hold to the concept of autonomy with accountability," MOE's Higher Education Department (JPT) said in a statement yesterday, 30 December, reported The Star.
"Through this, the university is responsible to all stakeholders, including students and the public."
The department said UniMAP is expected to provide further clarification on this issue.
Other than Zakir Naik, JPT noted that the exam paper also asked sensitive questions pertinent to LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) and strengthening of Jawi language.
In August, Zakir Naik started a nationwide uproar after he told Chinese "old guests" to go back before he does: