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Muslim Preacher Apologises for Insulting Hinduism

Kuala Lumpur

An Islamic preacher of Indian-origin, accused of insulting Hinduism in Malaysia five years ago, apologised today for his remarks following protests from the Hindu community in this Muslim majority nation.

Ustaz Shahul Hamid Mohammed, 39, had allegedly told Muslims not to buy curry powder products from what he deemed as "Hindu" companies.

The video of his remarks inside a prayer room went viral early this week, triggering protests from Hindu groups which demanded action against the preacher.

"I openly apologise in front of everyone, especially to the Indian community and all parties involved over my words during a speech I made which was considered offensive and insulting to the feelings of the Indian community," Muhammad said.

"I realise that I too, as an Indian, and someone who has origins in India, should not have insulted the beliefs of Hindus in front of everyone. I did not intend to offend and insult and did not mean to incite racial tension. I was only trying to attract the attention of my listeners at the event," he added.

"However, my ceramah (meeting) was recorded and uploaded without my knowledge and consent by other individuals," the preacher said.

Shahul Hamid is a member of the islamic fundamentalist opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party. He expressed regret over his words and promised that such incidents would not be repeated in the future.

He also said that he was willing to meet with leaders from the Indian community to apologise for his behaviour.

The preacher also had made fun of a drishti bomma,(a squarish metal plate with a painted idol to ward off evil eye) placed at the entrance of an Indian Flour Mills near Permatang Pauh.

Malaysia's 26 million population has eight per cent ethnic Indians of which majority are Hindus. Meanwhile, Muhammad reported to the Bukit Mertajam police station today to record his statement over the issue.

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PLACES: Malaysia
SECTION: International
OUTLOOK 31 July, 2014
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