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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Former Malaysia PM claims removed France posts were taken out of context

Mahathir was Malaysia's prime minister until February this year [Getty]

Date of publication: 30 October, 2020

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Mahathir Mohamad's posts claimed Muslims had the right to "kill millions of French people", sparking widespread condemnation.
Malaysia's former premier Mahathir Mohamad accused Twitter and Facebook of unfair treatment Friday after they removed his posts that said Muslims had the right "to kill millions of French people".

The 95-year-old sparked outrage by posting the remarks on the platforms a day earlier, shortly after a knifeman killed three people at a church in Nice, France's latest attack blamed on Islamist terrorism.

But Mahathir, who was prime minister of Muslim-majority Malaysia until February, said his comments had been misrepresented and his main intention was to express that Muslims had never sought revenge for injustices.

He said the posts were removed despite attempts to outline the context, adding that Facebook and Twitter "must at least allow me to explain and defend my position".  

"But that is what freedom of speech is to them. On the one hand, they defended those who chose to display offending caricatures of Prophet Mohammed... and expect all Muslims to swallow it in the name of freedom of speech and expression. 

"On the other, they deleted deliberately that Muslims had never sought revenge for the injustice against them in the past."

"I am indeed disgusted with attempts to misrepresent and take out of context what I wrote on my blog," Mahathir said.

Neither Facebook nor Twitter responded directly to Mahathir's latest comments. 

Mahathir's posts did not refer to the Nice attack, which followed the beheading of a French teacher who had shown pupils cartoons of Prophet Mohammed and subsequent tensions between France and Muslim countries.

He said the French "in the course of their history has killed millions of people. Many were Muslims. Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past".

But he added that "by and large the Muslims have not applied the 'eye for an eye' law. Muslims don't. The French shouldn't."

The US ambassador to Malaysia, Kamala Shirin Lakhdir, said on Friday that she "strongly disagreed" with Mahathir's statement. "Freedom of expression is a right, calling for violence is not," she said in a brief statement.

Australian High Commissioner in Malaysia Andrew Goledzinowski wrote that even though Mahathir wasn't advocating actual violence, "in the current climate, words can have consequences".

 

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